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Old 02-15-2011, 07:04 PM   #241
Durelin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Form
"basic interaction with another player's character may include dialogue, but the other player may always ask for the dialogue to be revised, and if they feel their character has been played in an out-of-character manner, they can ask to have the entire post revised or removed. As a general rule, therefore, if you do not know another player and their character well, you should be careful not to have them say or do anything significant without having consulted the other player first."
Can't it just be, don't do anything with another person's character without their consent and leave it at that? Leave it to the players to work it out. If you *know* the other person wants you to or gives permission; if two players have RPed together and are used to using each other's characters than by all means go ahead and do what you're used to. But that doesn't need to be in the rules. I'm pretty sure that mods will only step in when there is a complaint.

Wonder how many pages we can discuss this for...

/rule nitpicking...I hope. The whole using characters thing is of concern to me, though.
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Old 02-15-2011, 07:47 PM   #242
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Originally Posted by Nogrod View Post
What I think should be underlined is that the lax enforcement should be due to trust and general two-way feeling "breaking the rules" is okay for both parties involved (without this leave many games would stall badly). But writing that into a rule is something I find a bit problematic...
Yes, quite. I'm not sure how one would write it into the rules, but it's analogous to what is "proper" for regular society: there are liberties that are habitual and proper to friends, family, and lovers which would be grossly out of place for strangers. In like manner, one should know the other person and/or their character before taking liberties.

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Originally Posted by Durelin
Wonder how many pages we can discuss this for...
Quite a few, undoubtedly, but it's ultimately going to come down to the philosophy behind the way things are done as an RPing community, and (from my perspective), I don't see that we're actually modifying the Barrow-downs roleplaying ethos all that much. We're modifying the superstructure, taking into account the current personnel situation and the experience of pluses and minuses of the old structure... but I don't think the overall style of playing is really being brought into question.

In other words, I think we're quibbling more over how the formulation of the rules will match the unspoken habits of using other characters that are already in play, rather than revising the rule structure to reflect a whole new way of thinking.

Although... it might just be me who thinks that.
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Old 02-15-2011, 08:11 PM   #243
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but I don't think the overall style of playing is really being brought into question.
I didn't know that line had been drawn.

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Originally Posted by Form
In other words, I think we're quibbling more over how the formulation of the rules will match the unspoken habits of using other characters that are already in play, rather than revising the rule structure to reflect a whole new way of thinking.
Instead revise the rule structure to reflect unspoken habits that may or may not be shared by every player? And new players must conform to these unspoken habits? I mean, there's rules to help things go smoothly, and then there's rules that tell you how you should write, how you should RP, etc. The Downs is going to maintain a certain style regardless of how many unspoken habits you do or don't put into the rules. I guess it's how far you want to go. To be honest I just didn't know that not using someone's character without their permission is an entirely new way of thinking.

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Old 02-16-2011, 08:57 AM   #244
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Originally Posted by Durelin View Post
I didn't know that line had been drawn.
My apologies then--perhaps it hasn't been explicitly drawn. Nonetheless, without anyone having drawn a precise line, it seems to me that a realistic appraisal of the situation yields the same results: we're talking about a change to RPing, as it is played on the Downs. This discussion involves Downer RPers, under the eyes of the Downer mods and admins. What's more, with the possible (probable?) exception of yourself, no one has really been agitating for a complete levelling of the way RPs are played on the Downs. Instead, the majority of the discussion has focused on how to streamline what we already have.

Maybe I'm the only one who sees it this way--and in that case, more people ought to speak up and tell me so--but in simplest terms, we're not building a new forum; we're modifying the one we have.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Durelin
Instead revise the rule structure to reflect unspoken habits that may or may not be shared by every player?
Not every player may share these "unspoken habits," but I sincerely hope that the attempts at revising the rules don't make it appear that people have to use other player's characters extensively in their posts. The rules, as they stand, say that you can't use someone else's character. The practice--what you're calling unspoken habits--is that we do use each other's characters, cautiously and sparingly in most cases, or more extensively when we know them better, always open to adjustment at the behest of the other character's player. The revision of this rule insofar as anyone seems to be talking about it would not impose any new burden of interaction on players who try not to use other people's characters, but would turn the currently illicit, but de facto situation of shared character use into a de iure case.

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Originally Posted by Durelin
And new players must conform to these unspoken habits?
These unspoken habits, in my experience, are what happen after two players and their two characters have played together for a while--the players learn what they can reasonably do with someone else's character, and end up using them accordingly--beyond the limits proscribed by the current law. Extending the bounds of the current law to include what is already happening does not force new players to play right out to those limits. On the contrary, it gives them the confidence and freedom to know that they are not going to be blithely struck down if they so much as use someone else's concierge to sign them into a hotel lobby.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Durelin
I mean, there's rules to help things go smoothly, and then there's rules that tell you how you should write, how you should RP, etc. The Downs is going to maintain a certain style regardless of how many unspoken habits you do or don't put into the rules. I guess it's how far you want to go. To be honest I just didn't know that not using someone's character without their permission is an entirely new way of thinking.
If I may make a candid, and possibly erroneous observation, Durelin, your biggest issue seems to be that "the Downs is going to maintain a certain style regardless"--and I am inferring that you think this is not an entirely good thing. Perhaps this is the whole problem here: unlike you (assuming I read you right), I want the Downs to maintain the good elements of its "certain style." What's more, I get the impression that most of the people commenting on this thread want to maintain what they think the good elements of Downsian roleplaying are. As a result, while maybe there is no "line drawn," it seems patently likely that the new Downs forums will resemble the old.
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:13 AM   #245
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If I may offer a few modest observations here . . . .

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Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
I don't see that we're actually modifying the Barrow-downs roleplaying ethos all that much. We're modifying the superstructure, taking into account the current personnel situation and the experience of pluses and minuses of the old structure... but I don't think the overall style of playing is really being brought into question.

In other words, I think we're quibbling more over how the formulation of the rules will match the unspoken habits of using other characters that are already in play, rather than revising the rule structure to reflect a whole new way of thinking.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Formendacil
it seems patently likely that the new Downs forums will resemble the old.
I think back to Mithadan's comment that the RPG fora have "become somewhat rundown and shabby" (post #218 on this thread). And I also think back to the several comments about different styles of games, those highly structured/organised and those more spontaneous or interactive. I thought the new incarnation would allow for both styles, whereas the current one allows only for the first, and would free gamers up from the tightly controlled structure that now exists, encouraging Downers to take a more active role in gaming.

So I was under the impression that what was going on now was an attempt to reincarnate the gaming at the Downs under guidelines that would be encouraging and positive where the current system can sound discouraging (just a whole lot of hoops) and patronising (if I can summarise some of the thoughts here), however well meant.

I suggest that if the current rules are simply carried over with some modification or tinkering, nothing will change, nothing will encourage new gamers to join, nothing will reinvigorate the RPG forum, because the framework will continue to stiffle creativity and fun. It will sound too much like the old fora and still seem just like too much work.

Consider the Guidelines for Forum Posting which Estelyn Telcontar wrote, found in N & N. They uphold the Downs style without sounding too heavy-handed. Granted that RPGing is a different context, but surely those differences can be incorporated in a framework that doesn't sound onerous and that gives ownership for gaming to the people doing it.

So, I don't think it's just a matter of streamlining what we have, but of reinventing how we describe what we do and what we would like to see.

Respectfully submitted,
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:47 AM   #246
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bêthberry View Post
Consider the Guidelines for Forum Posting which Estelyn Telcontar wrote, found in N & N. They uphold the Downs style without sounding too heavy-handed. Granted that RPGing is a different context, but surely those differences can be incorporated in a framework that doesn't sound onerous and that gives ownership for gaming to the people doing it.

So, I don't think it's just a matter of streamlining what we have, but of reinventing how we describe what we do and what we would like to see.
That's definitely a good place to start. As you've said it's a different context, but it's still applicable to the RPG forum.

I mean, if we're talking about "hi-jacking" other people's characters. I think of it this way. The guide to posting says consider your own opinion and write it. I wouldn't take too kindly if Fea, started posting in the lore forums "Boro thinks Tolkien's an ancient relic, and an irrelevant has-been to modern society." Whether she's right or wrong isn't really the issue, I wouldn't like someone saying my opinions, when if I wanted to, I could speak for myself...thank you very much.

I'd feel the same about an RPG character. It's "my" character, unless I become negligent and am no longer posting, I don't want it taken over by someone else, unless:

1. They've asked me if it's ok.
2. Will go back and change stuff about my character that I think is necessary.

What I try to do, if I need to use other characters, but don't want to repeatedly ask if it's ok. I try to write how my character perceives another person's character. In this case, I'm developing my own character, without effecting anyone else's character, as it's only what my character thinks. No one seems to have had a problem with me over that? (I could be wrong though )

But the most important thing that I can take is #10 from Esty's post. Have fun, and yes I don't want people hi-jacking my character, but don't act like it's the end of the world if someone did. In another forum, I got into a debate with someone who said Tolkien was not a humorous author. LOTR is all serious and how dare the movies not be. Last I looked, I giggled at characters like Bombadil and all the situational irony/witty banter. Things can be changed, and if whoever has stepped over the line in using someone else's character flat out refuses to change it (which I can't see who would have a problem) the Mods can step in to make the edits...yes?
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Old 02-16-2011, 11:13 AM   #247
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If I may offer a few modest observations here . . . .
And they are well taken--perhaps I have been getting carried away in saying things like "most of the people commenting here." However, it's also possible I've overstated things in making a point...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bêthberry
I think back to Mithadan's comment that the RPG fora have "become somewhat rundown and shabby" (post #218 on this thread). And I also think back to the several comments about different styles of games, those highly structured/organised and those more spontaneous or interactive. I thought the new incarnation would allow for both styles, whereas the current one allows only for the first, and would free gamers up from the tightly controlled structure that now exists, encouraging Downers to take a more active role in gaming.

So I was under the impression that what was going on now was an attempt to reincarnate the gaming at the Downs under guidelines that would be encouraging and positive where the current system can sound discouraging (just a whole lot of hoops) and patronising (if I can summarise some of the thoughts here), however well meant.
Reading through that, I agree with you, and if this is the point Durelin was making, then I withdraw my responses as entirely too pedantic. However... I am reading you as saying that it's the system we go through to get at the games that is discouraging and patronising--not the games themselves. Since the rules we were/are quibbling over deal with the basic elements of interaction in the game, it seems to me that they would implicitly stand--at the very least as an informal etiquette. It is a valid critique to say that not everything needs to be codified into rules (and my last post, at the very least, would happily have verged in that direction), but that doesn't mean that the etiquette governing intra-game interactions is invalid.

Meanwhile, though, the point is well taken that in directing new members towards an understanding of this etiquette, the "rules" as posted should be less meticulously legal and more inviting. As far as that goes, I agree... but with regards to removing the principle altogether that a player ought to have the final say where his own character's characterisation goes? Even if that were not written into the rules anywhere, I would assume this principle unless I saw it stated otherwise--and if I did see it stated otherwise, I'd be much less inclined to sign up for a game.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bêthberry
I suggest that if the current rules are simply carried over with some modification or tinkering, nothing will change, nothing will encourage new gamers to join, nothing will reinvigorate the RPG forum, because the framework will continue to stiffle creativity and fun. It will sound too much like the old fora and still seem just like too much work.

Consider the Guidelines for Forum Posting which Estelyn Telcontar wrote, found in N & N. They uphold the Downs style without sounding too heavy-handed. Granted that RPGing is a different context, but surely those differences can be incorporated in a framework that doesn't sound onerous and that gives ownership for gaming to the people doing it.
Insofar as I agree that there needs to be a distinctly inviting tone, and that the actual procedures involved should be as simple as possible, I agree... and I accept any rebuke due to me that I've been encouraging discussion in a legal direction, which is counterproductive. That being said, however, "upholding the Downs style" is exactly what the new rules should do... and in that respect I feel like what I've been trying to say all along is that the new RPing forum(s) will be Downs forums, and that the in-game etiquette that is the practical expression of Downer courtesy and cooperation right now will continue in very similar ways in the future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bêthberry
So, I don't think it's just a matter of streamlining what we have, but of reinventing how we describe what we do and what we would like to see.
Perhaps "streamlining" is the wrong word... but I had difficulty finding the right word. What I've been attempting to defend--and perhaps the need of any defence thereof was never present--is the idea that different etiquette will be found in the new forums. I've been calling this "ethos," or "Downer style," and I'm not referring to the process by which someone can start a game, or by which they can join a game, or even the style of game, but rather the interaction of people once they're involved together in a game.

Maybe different rules would be necessary then, for looser, open-ended, games, as opposed to more "traditional" games--in which case, I not-so-subtly suggest that we need distinct forums, ala my Doriath/Rivendell proposal . However, even in a looser, open-ended game, my impression was still that individual players would have individual characters, which implies a sense of investment and ownership. Given that, it seems only common courtesy to me that the player with that ownership would still be deferred to where that character is considered.

If we're talking about collaborative story-writing, where there is no identification of player with character, but merely mass ownership of the entire story without authorial division by character, then we're talking about something that hardly qualifies as role-playing, and might be more akin to co-written fanfiction. And while I'm not saying there's no room for that on the Downs, I guess I didn't think we were discussing that far outside the box.

In retrospect... seeing where I've come and all, I stand by what I said about "new Downs forums resembling the old." It was an unfortunate way to phrase it, but what I meant was that we would still be playing games recognizable as roleplaying, and that we would be interacting therein with a similar etiquette to what we have now.
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Old 02-16-2011, 12:32 PM   #248
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Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
what I meant was that we would still be playing games recognizable as roleplaying, and that we would be interacting therein with a similar etiquette to what we have now.
Yes.

Though we are restructuring dramatically, the final result will (and should) still have elements such as:
  • This being a Tolkien website, the games will be Tolkien-themed
  • No sex, obscenities, or other rudeness permitted (WWTD?)
  • If you don't want to write collaboratively, making a conscious effort to work with others in a meaningful way, perhaps the concept of a community based forum with an active role playing section (as opposed to an RPG forum that happens to have people who like to talk at great length) has been lost on you
  • Make an effort to provide posts that are not full of typographical errors, etc
  • Be conscious of tone (it is easy to misinterpret the tone of voice in writing, and easy to be offended by something not meant to offend) and willing to adjust, edit, apologize, and forgive as necessary
These are not dictatorial issues that are in place for the sheer sake of power structure. Though this is a community oriented forum, it is still privately owned and the opinions of Himself must be adhered to. Also, due to the collaborative nature of RPGing, keeping general rules in place to ensure that posts reflect a generosity and kindness of spirit, and a careful thought, rather than selfish or lazy writing, is more in the spirit of Tolkien and how he would approach writing with his name attached to it, than it is a reflection of HOW EVERYTHING MUST BE EVERYWHERE.
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Old 02-16-2011, 12:41 PM   #249
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Form
If we're talking about collaborative story-writing, where there is no identification of player with character, but merely mass ownership of the entire story without authorial division by character, then we're talking about something that hardly qualifies as role-playing, and might be more akin to co-written fanfiction. And while I'm not saying there's no room for that on the Downs, I guess I didn't think we were discussing that far outside the box.
This is funny, because this is what I think the Downs style has been like. The *play out the plot step by step, using the characters to complete the plot* (which means sometimes everyone sorta collectively using the characters)...

The Downs RP 'style' may change a bit, it may not. It has nothing to do with whether it's good or not. A certain style, a certain etiquette is going to just simply exist, regardless of what you try to put into the rules or if you just leave it all out except for the basics.

Why not leave room for variety? For some things a little different? No one's going to pop in and just change the status quo if you don't outline every little style point in the rules. For one thing, the status quo is pretty *solid* here...for another, that just doesn't happen.

And the problem is you have one perception of the 'Downs RP style.' It's quite different from mine. I have no idea about anyone else's, but just looking at this thread, it seems like a lot of us are in different worlds. And the fact is, the style has changed over time, fluctuated a great deal. In the particulars, the style can differ from game to game and certainly from forum to forum, which was part of the point of the three forum system (the differences seemed to get fewer over time, I guess).

So, I just think what you're trying to put into rules, to 'preserve' the style...it's a bit much, and not what rules are for in my opinion.

And yea, on a personal level, I'm *whining* because I don't like people using my character to move along the story or accomplish something they want to accomplish.

Re Fea's post:

Yea, I think we can all agree on those basic rules, regardless of wording. Though I think rule #3 applies to any community. And of course #5 is a tricky thing to put into rules. I mean that just falls under general forum rules of interaction.
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Old 02-16-2011, 01:32 PM   #250
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This is funny, because this is what I think the Downs style has been like. The *play out the plot step by step, using the characters to complete the plot* (which means sometimes everyone sorta collectively using the characters)...
Well, I daresay I've read you wrong in many respects... while at the same time I have to heartily agree that we see things here from drastically different perspectives. I am content to agree to disagree. In any case, my point has been made, while perhaps not articulated well enough for complete comprehension...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Durelin
Why not leave room for variety? For some things a little different? No one's going to pop in and just change the status quo if you don't outline every little style point in the rules. For one thing, the status quo is pretty *solid* here...for another, that just doesn't happen.
First of all, in case there's any impression to the contrary, I am not opposed to having few spelled out rules. Nonetheless, we have to have *some* rules, and even some rules that have been written down. This particular sidetrack developed out of a discussion regarding the current rule about not godmoding. My (overdone) defencive was never really intended to give the new forum a detailed, down-to-the-particular situation rulebook. While I definitely got distracted regarding the formulation, application, and interpretation of this particular law (for which you can thank my affinity for canon law), it's worth noting that my point was to affirm the validity of the current rules, and more importantly to note that the reason those rules existed--namely to safeguard the rights of players--was still valid.

Granted, if in fact the current system, for all its rigidity on that point doesn't actually safeguard a player's right to their character, but actually railroads them in the direction of the plot... well, in that case my impassioned legal defence is sort of beside the point, whatever its intrinsic value.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Durelin
And the fact is, the style has changed over time, fluctuated a great deal. In the particulars, the style can differ from game to game and certainly from forum to forum, which was part of the point of the three forum system (the differences seemed to get fewer over time, I guess).

So, I just think what you're trying to put into rules, to 'preserve' the style...it's a bit much, and not what rules are for in my opinion.
"Style" is one of the worst of a few bad word-choices I've made, and you'd think a Philosophy/English student would know better*. My usage keeps being interpreted as something a lot more nitpicky and detailed than I meant it to be, and that's probably my fault for responding in a nitpicky way to a nitpicky issue, while having the -unstated- intention of speaking about big things, which were, at best, only alluded to.

So, to make it extra, crystal-clear...

I don't want to make lots of little rules detailing the exact specifics of every possible situation--and, in that respect especially, my use of the word "style" was unfortunate.

That being said, however... I do think it's extremely important to be having nitpicky, even contra-factual, discussions about the "rules/etiquette." For one thing, it provokes opinions, and for another it lets one examine the full consequences of a change. Do we want to have less restrictive rules? Yes, I think we all agree on that in principle. At the same time, however, do we want to do away with the motivations behind the rules as they stand? Taking your case, of displeasure at having your character railroaded for the sake of the story, then it seems to me that, in the case of the rule about not godmoding, that you still would want the principle behind it being forbidden to remain in place.

As to Fea's basic rules... they're the principles behind all the rules we have now, and are essentially what I've been defending--albeit, perhaps they were never under attack...




*Trivia fact: we don't. On the contrary, we tend to redefine words and make the subconscious assumption that everyone else will figure out the "new meaning" through a combination of context and miraculous osmosis.
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Old 02-16-2011, 03:05 PM   #251
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To clarify what I meant . . .

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Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
Reading through that, I agree with you, and if this is the point Durelin was making, then I withdraw my responses as entirely too pedantic. However... I am reading you as saying that it's the system we go through to get at the games that is discouraging and patronising--not the games themselves.
Although I stepped in between your discussion with Durelin, I wasn't responding specifically to her points or that question of "bunnying" other people's characters. (And if you look back over my posts you will find I was adamantly against game owners controlling other gamer's characters and style. I even spoke of an experience I had where the game owner wanted my character to react in a particular way that I felt was contrary to her psychology.)

Instead, I was responding to the general tenor of the posts about new guidelines/rules and your to me rather frightening statement that implied things ain't gonna change when you said the new forums will resemble the old. If the new forums simply cut and paste and edit the old rules, I don't think they will accomplish the rejuvenation that we all hope to see. I like the word "etiquette" to describe the gaming milieu here and I like Fea's points, all generously describing things without becoming too prescriptive. Nicelythought out and nicely said and lightly too! And I thank you, Formy for clarifying that you meant to uphold the ethos of the games.

And to be honest, sometimes it was the games themselves that were discouraging to me (can't speak for others). I came to feel that the planning and even discussion threads were taking the place of the interactive nature of RPGing, so that writing the actual post became perfunctory and even redundant. It had already all been said! We seem to be very good at coming up with clever characters but somehow the stories just don't get written.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Formy
However, even in a looser, open-ended game, my impression was still that individual players would have individual characters, which implies a sense of investment and ownership. Given that, it seems only common courtesy to me that the player with that ownership would still be deferred to where that character is considered.
Of course!

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If we're talking about collaborative story-writing, where there is no identification of player with character, but merely mass ownership of the entire story without authorial division by character, then we're talking about something that hardly qualifies as role-playing, and might be more akin to co-written fanfiction. And while I'm not saying there's no room for that on the Downs, I guess I didn't think we were discussing that far outside the box.
That's not what I mean by any means.

Anyhow, thanks Formy for replying at length and so generously to my concerns.
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Old 02-16-2011, 03:29 PM   #252
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Anyhow, thanks Formy for replying at length and so generously to my concerns.
You're most welcome--if there's anything I do well, it's writing at length. :-p

For what it's worth, I may as well mention that my "hermeneutic" for approaching change is strongly influenced by a variety of theological and liturgical opinions that really have nothing to do with RPing, but have a lot to do with how I make analogies in my head from RPing to the Second Vatican Council. Put as simply as I can make it, I'm all for aggiornamento and opening the windows, so the speak (I agree things are shabby and in need of a thorough opening up), but I am by nature concerned that in opening the windows and dusting things off that the furniture will end up getting chucked out the window.

Not that this is by any means liable to happen in the Downs RPing forums... but that gives you a sort of mindframe to view me through: a Vatican II Catholic with a hermeneutic of continuity with what came before. Change is good, but not change for the sake of change.

[/off-topic]
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Old 02-16-2011, 09:10 PM   #253
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Mithadan has downloaded the last several pages of this thread (without member names, intentionally) to a Word document to read it all and make some decisions. It's taking longer than expected.

FYI the Word document, in 10 point type, is 74 pages long!

So, I'm working on it....
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Old 02-16-2011, 09:13 PM   #254
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For what it's worth, I may as well mention that my "hermeneutic" for approaching change is strongly influenced by a variety of theological and liturgical opinions that really have nothing to do with RPing, but have a lot to do with how I make analogies in my head from RPing to the Second Vatican Council. Put as simply as I can make it, I'm all for aggiornamento and opening the windows, so the speak (I agree things are shabby and in need of a thorough opening up), but I am by nature concerned that in opening the windows and dusting things off that the furniture will end up getting chucked out the window.

Not that this is by any means liable to happen in the Downs RPing forums... but that gives you a sort of mindframe to view me through: a Vatican II Catholic with a hermeneutic of continuity with what came before. Change is good, but not change for the sake of change.

[/off-topic]
*coughs*

Possibly you were sounding more like the Council of Trent than the Second Vatican Council and I wasn't quite thinking of myself as a heretic.

*coughs*

[/end off-topic]
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Old 02-16-2011, 09:16 PM   #255
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FYI the Word document, in 10 point type, is 74 pages long!
We... we love you a lot.
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Old 02-17-2011, 05:24 AM   #256
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So, I'm working on it....
But are you billing us for it?

Mithalwen (still a Lawyer's brat) also knows she would have been burnt at the stake in an earlier era....

Probably just for being obnoxious rather than from theological ideology...
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Old 02-17-2011, 06:50 AM   #257
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Old 02-17-2011, 07:10 AM   #258
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May not have a big enough hat...

Nah, with my bean counter hat on I will break it down to find the words per minute rate and invoice the individual posters proportionally....

That, or see if the Pan Man is cheaper...
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Old 02-17-2011, 09:10 AM   #259
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$400 per hour. Pass the hat...
You're fired unless you agree to work pro bono.
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Old 02-19-2011, 09:53 PM   #260
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1420! RPG Forum Reboot

I would like to begin by thanking all of you for posting your thoughts and suggestions. In particular, I’d like to thank Durelin for starting up this conversation. It seems to be long overdue. I’d also like to thank you all for your patience. I really did read all of the 77 odd pages of everyone’s posts before committing this to writing.

Before I set out my proposals, I’d like to respond to some comments, both public (no offense taken) and private, suggesting that I have been “secretive”, “deliberately obtuse”, or complaining that I have not posted my own views on how things should change or be structured. With apologies, my approach during the last few weeks has been intentional. When this discussion began, I immediately had a number of ideas on how things should be done. I chose not to post my own thoughts for three reasons. First, I really wanted to see what our members’ opinions and views were before making decisions, and I wanted to allow myself to be open-minded and influenced by what others were saying. Second, I wanted to encourage a free exchange of thoughts and views (so yes, I did employ the Socratic method to an extent). Third, to the extent we implement change, I do not want it to be exclusively imposed “from above” by the Administrators, but rather wanted the ideas to come from all of you.

What follows is in the form of a proposal. It is the way I think the Forums should be restructured and operated going forward. I think it takes into account not only our members’ concerns and desires but also the practicalities of managing and operating the forums. This said, I invite comments and criticism for a short period of time, say three days unless more discussion is really needed. After that, we will begin implementing our changes.

Also, keep in mind that this is all somewhat experimental. We need to see how things work and may need to tweak things more as time passes. Some of my proposals below are very specifically “FOR NOW” and will be stated as such. This is because we need to begin a little carefully, and then can loosen things up as we get our “sea legs”.

RPG Forums Version 3.0

A. Number of Forums.

Three (plus Elvenhome). This is, by the way, an issue where your suggestions changed my mind (more than once).

(1) The Game Forum, which will include the ongoing games and their discussion threads. The Inns would either be in this Forum of the Game Development Forum, whichever you all think is better.

(2) The Game Development Forum, for threads regarding proposed new games and related discussions. Each proposed new game should have its own thread which will be closed and deleted or moved after the game starts. Each thread should begin with a basic description of the game, type of game, anticipated length, skill level (if appropriate) and the Game Owner’s thoughts regarding types of characters needed. Members should post to refine the game idea, propose characters, etc. Recruiting can take place here. The Mods will monitor the proposal threads and make appropriate suggestions.

(3) The Rules and Resources Forum, which will include, of course, the forum rules and guidelines, existing “game seed” threads and gamer resource threads, etc. This will be a library of sorts. Most of the threads will be closed to posting except for a current resources thread. By resources, I mean links to websites having information benefiting members, such as sites describing weaponry and fighting, types of ships, writing tips, etc. The rules will be a liberalized (and hopefully somewhat shorter) version of the present Shire Rules revised to conform to this outline.

If as time passes there appears to be a real need for multiple game forums, we can revisit this issue, but I don’t think there is such a need now.

B. Types of Games.

We should have both Plot Based Games (story oriented games), focusing upon writing a tale outlined (and within reason controlled or managed) by the Game Owner, and Character Based Games (more spontaneous, less strictly controlled and scripted).

We should flesh out the definitions better, however a Plot Based Game is one where the Game Owner sets out a relatively detailed plot and character summary at the outset and takes a somewhat more active role in guiding the RPG from start to finish. As some have said, this is more like cooperative writing of a story.

A Character Based Game will begin with a much less detailed plot summary and the players will be able (and expected) to create the story as it progresses. This is where posts with “hooks” for people to respond to and plotting or cooperation between small (and often shifting) groups of players will take a greater role. This is more of a freestyle game.

The planning threads for each game should very CLEARLY indicate what type of game is being proposed. The planning thread should also include any conditions or restrictions that the Game Owner intends to impose, i.e. “I will be putting up obstacles and challenges as the game progresses” or “I will be controlling the progress of the plot and may ask you to rewrite posts that are inconsistent with what I have planned”.

If the game targets a particular skill level, this should also be indicated in the planning thread. FOR NOW, I would like to see all new games “open to all skill levels”. Later, we can move on to some games that cater to “intermediate” or “advanced” so long as games open to newcomers are always available.

C. Length of Games.

All games (other than the Inns) must have a definable beginning and end and an expected duration. FOR NOW, I would like us to begin with games of relatively short expected duration, less than three months and preferably four to six weeks, until we can see what the forums can sustain and to give interested members a chance to join and participate.

Expected duration is not hard and fast. If you estimate six weeks and the game takes eight or ten, so long as the game moves along and everyone is informed that the game is running over, this is fine. If a six week games turns into three or four months, or if the game is simply not progressing, expect to hear from the Mods.

D. Number of Games Running at One Time.

To ensure that we don’t have more games than our members can support (and to avoid members “doubling up” on games and over-committing), I think that FOR NOW we should limit the number of new games starting and running. I don’t know how many is the right number and I also don’t know how existing and ongoing games fit into this. I am very open to some form of queue system as you may propose. Otherwise, the Mods will have to police this issue.

E. Responsibilities of Game Owners.

Anyone who has participated in a RPG on the Downs previously may be a Game Owner. If you have abandoned a game previously, or have very limited experience, the Mods may require a co-Owner.

The whole concept here is to shift responsibility from the Mods to the Game Owners (or Managers, Facilitators, whatever title you want) to run and complete games. This is the only way this will work.

Game Owners will be responsible for creating and describing their concept in the Planning Threads, recruiting players, making the game move along, replacing absentee members and bring their game to completion in a more or less timely fashion.

Each game owner may recruit and select his or her own players, however, we REALLY need to avoid excluding people, particularly newcomers, until we reach some degree of a critical mass of games. If your game calls for a specific skill level, the Game Owner may POLITELY refuse to allow a less experienced player to join or allocate a lesser role to that player.

If a player goes AWOL, the Game Owner may, after PMing the missing player, replace him with another, or allocate his role to one or more existing players. Do not wait for a missing player to return, particularly if he or she disappears without notice.

Game Owners must identify the game type, Plot or Character Based, at the outset, and once done cannot change the rules in mid-stream. Game Owners must identify any restrictions or controls of game play at the outset. Don’t expect to be able to PM a member to say “change this” in a Character Based Game or if you haven’t otherwise given fair warning.

If a Game Owner abandons a game without notice, they will not be allowed to start a new game for an appropriate period of time. Absentee Owners are simply not acceptable. If an Owner realizes he or she must take time off or leave a game, the Mods must be notified and a replacement must be found.

Expected frequency of posting is to be set out in the Planning Thread with the initial outline and the Owner must get all players to commit to the expected frequency of posting and enforce it via PM and in the discussion thread. PM the Mods if you don’t get cooperation.

F. Starting New Games.

I can hear the cheers already. The formal game proposal procedures are no more. The Planning Threads will serve as the way to flesh out a concept. The Mods will monitor these threads and make suggestions as needed. Once the planning of a game is completed, please PM the Mod and say “we think we’re ready to start”. So long as there are no canonicity issues or questions regarding whether the Forum can support a new game (queue suggestions anyone?) the Owner can start the game and discussion threads in the Game Forum. The discussion thread should include in its first post the Game Outline and any character bios.

G. The Game Outline.

This is the beginning of any Planning Thread. It must include the proposed game name, setting (geographic and in time), the game type, skill level, expected duration and posting frequency, game restrictions or Owner conditions, and the plot outline. As always, the Outline must have a definable beginning and end.

The plot outline should be more detailed in Plot Based Games and less detailed in Character Based Games. It should include roughly how many and what type of characters are wanted. An example of a Character Based Game plot outline is as follows:

“A group of 5 travelers meet in an Inn in a small settlement in Rohan at the outset of the War of the Ring. They exchange stories until the settlement is attacked by Orcs and Men out of Orthanc. The travelers join the settlers in attempting to fight off the attack.”

There is a definable end; the end of the attack, win, lose or draw. There is considerable freedom for the characters to develop the plot themselves. You could have members playing Orcs. You could have an undisclosed traitor in the Inn. The story should tell itself as it progresses.

A Plot Based Game must give enough detail for the players to understand the story to be told and the roles of their respective characters.

H. Character Bios.

At least a minimal Bio must be posted for every RPG (not Inn) character. This must include at least the character name, race, and significant physical and personality traits. The Bio must be as detailed as the Game Owner requires. The Game Owner may require a brief backstory.

I. The Mods and Their Roles.

Piosenniel will continue in her role as chief Moderator of the Forums. We have three volunteers to assist her and she will allocate their roles and responsibilities.

The Mods will monitor the Planning Threads and story outlines. They will also monitor the number of games running and the progress of the games. If there seem to be more games running than the Forums can support, the Mod can ask that the start of a game be delayed. If a game is running too long, they will PM the Owner. If a game seems to be abandoned or on the verge of failing, they will PM the Owner and/or players. Any disputes should be referred to the Mods, as should absentee owners or players. One or more of the Mods will also be involved in the Inns, either directly as Innkeeper, or indirectly. The Mods will try to keep track of players looking for games and insert them into start up or, if appropriate, pending games. They will move games that are concluded to Elvenhome and deal with abandoned games as well.

The goal is for the Mods to be as hands off as possible. But they are responsible for order and operations.

J. The Inns.

It seems that Scarburg Meadhall continues to be popular and desired (perhaps as an RPG rather than an Inn?). There should be one or two other Inns, perhaps one for newcomers and a second for more experienced players. I leave it to Piosenniel to decide if existing Inns should be used or new ones started.

Inns are places to socialize in character and test character ideas and otherwise experiment. They are a great place to practice, to show that you are interested in joining a game or to just have fun. They should be far less informal than games, but members should still assume a character there. Talking generally about games and planning should take place in the Planning Threads or the Game Discussion Threads.
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Old 02-19-2011, 10:01 PM   #261
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Thanks for all your hard work on this, Mithadan. The reboot looks fine to me.
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Old 02-20-2011, 09:16 AM   #262
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This looks wonderful, Mithadan. Thank you for your hard work, and also for your understanding and patience.
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Old 02-20-2011, 10:48 AM   #263
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Old 02-20-2011, 12:18 PM   #264
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I have nothing to add to the accolades, save that I agree with them. The new proposal looks good to me, and seems to encompass pretty much all of the concerns brought up in this discussion.
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Old 02-21-2011, 04:06 PM   #265
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I think it looks like a great proposal and I think the proposal outlines good change.

My only concerns are with the firm line between 'Game Development' and 'Game Running' essentially. It kinda seems to force a detailed planning period before you even start the game (even though I realize it won't be required, right?), which may make people feel like they have to have everything set in stone before they start the game...because once the planning thread is done, it's done! And limiting recruitment to a planning period also restricts keeping a game open to new players. I know someone, I think Form, commented on the concern that 'only people involved in the game read discussion threads,' and thus you need a planning thread to make it feel open to new people/outsiders I suppose. And having a planning thread, which is the 'open' sort of thread, and then the discussion thread, makes the latter the 'closed' thread.

Maybe in the development forum we could have some sort of 'recruiting'/game advertising method in addition to game planning? Edit: That can be used during a game to give notice of on-going games/games without a planning thread that are open to new players, etc.

Also the line between the *plot based* and *character based* also kinda bothers me, and as Mithadan pointed out, you'd need to define them specifically in order to use them as labels...which is difficult. I think it makes sense for someone to set out at the beginning what the 'feel' of the game will be, the pace of it, etc...but specifically defining two different types/categories is a little constricting maybe, if perhaps necessary.

Re limiting the number of games -- should Piosenniel and/or Mithadan just decide when enough's enough for now and close the opening of games, if in fact there is an explosion of them? (Which is basically what is said under the 'Mods and their roles' section)

And I understand the desire for time limits so I'll not whine about that.

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Old 02-22-2011, 08:40 AM   #266
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Maybe in the development forum we could have some sort of 'recruiting'/game advertising method in addition to game planning? Edit: That can be used during a game to give notice of on-going games/games without a planning thread that are open to new players, etc.
Agreed.

Any suggestions on defining Plot Based versus Character Based Games?

Any suggestions for a queue system, maybe based upon what is used in WW? Such a system might lessen the need for Mods to interfere with games starting due to concerns regarding too many games running at the same time.
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Old 02-22-2011, 08:57 AM   #267
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Plot Based Games: games wherein the players write with an eye toward fleshing out a story from a series of predetermined plot points.

Character Based Games: games wherein major plot points develop organically from the behaviors of the players' characters.

Does this help?
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Old 02-22-2011, 08:59 AM   #268
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Ah, and a queue system... Should we perhaps have a queue thread (cleverly named Queue Thread) wherein people interested in owning a game express their interest? A list can be made pretty informally. Until we know how many people even want to run a game, it will be hard to make any regulations or guidelines about how many games can be run.
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Old 02-23-2011, 11:07 AM   #269
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Oh, thanks Mithadan! I was quite desperate trying to skim through all the pages that had appeared while I was absent, now there seems to be a sensible outline. Looks good to me.

One question though - you say the number of games should be limited at first. How do old games dugfrom Elvenhome fit in the scheme? Pio recently closed The Tears of Mirrormere RPG but we might dig it up in the next few months - are there some limits to this, should we recruit new players, etc?
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Old 03-08-2011, 07:18 PM   #270
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Coming soon....

Sorry for the delay, guys.

There being no further comments or suggestions, this discussion (but not this thread) is officially closed. New forums (New Smials?) will be opening soon.
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Old 03-10-2011, 01:54 PM   #271
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RPG Forums Re-Boot

The re-boot and structural changes are done. Thanks to Mr. Underhill for his technical assistance.

Enjoy!
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Old 03-10-2011, 05:16 PM   #272
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Thank you EVERYONE for collaborating on this in such a true democratic fashion!
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Old 03-10-2011, 05:39 PM   #273
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And congratulations Fea and Formy on becoming the new Assistant Moderators.

I think you two will make a most interesting pairing and I'm sure pio will appreciate the help and support.

Good luck with all these new smial thingies.
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Old 03-10-2011, 05:50 PM   #274
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Originally Posted by Bêthberry View Post
I think you two will make a most interesting pairing and I'm sure pio will appreciate the help and support.
Just wait until you see the new 'Inn' we're setting up.
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Old 03-10-2011, 05:55 PM   #275
piosenniel
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Originally Posted by Feanor of the Peredhil View Post
Just wait until you see the new 'Inn' we're setting up.
Yes, looking forward to meandering in . . .

~*~ Pio
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Old 03-10-2011, 07:07 PM   #276
Anguirel
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trivial I know, but I do really miss the Tolkien location names and would be much happier if some version returned with functional sub-titles. Other than that though looks very elegant
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