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 Rules for the Game

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Posts : 361
Join date : 2014-09-12
Age : 35
Location : Cheyenne, WY

PostSubject: Rules for the Game   Mon Dec 01, 2014 12:05 am

The following is blatantly stolen from the official L5R WC IV forums that I am helping to GM.

We will use these rules (in general) unless they obviously argue with how we want to run the game.  Let me know if you see any particular problems with them.

A Player's Primer to Winter Court

So, you're playing in the AEG Play-by-Post (PbP) Winter Court (WC) forum event. How does this thing even work? It obviously involves posting, on a forum, but unless you've done this before, it's probably a mystery as to what you actually DO to play in WC. And even if you HAVE done it before, it never hurts to have a refresher. Here, then, are the things you need to know to play in WC.


There are essentially two types of characters in WC—Player Characters (PCs) and Non-Player Characters (NPCs):

PCs – these are the characters controlled by players. As a player, you have a PC, that represents your in-game persona for WC. When you post as your PC, you will post "in character" or IC.

NPCs – these are characters controlled by the WC Game Master staff. They're very similar to PCs in many ways—they'll closely resemble PCs in how they post, and so on—but their role is different. NPCs are more like "props" in a play, playing roles that are intended to advance the story, provide information to the PCs, and generally flesh-out the environment of the game.  Generally, the most powerful people in WC, such as the Empress's Chosen (the Emerald Champion, the Imperial Chancellor, the Voice of the Empress, etc.) and Clan Champions—in other words, all of the very high-Status characters in WC—will be NPCs. Likewise, many servants, eta, and similar supporting characters, if they need to be played at all, will be played as NPCs.


Participating in a Thread

The most fundamental aspect of playing in WC is posting. You will generally post in a "thread", which is a succession of posts, each a reply to one proceeding, that collectively describe the interactions—verbal and physical—usually between two or more player characters PCs and/or NPCs. All posting is done IC, unless you're posting in a designated "out of character" or OOC thread.
When you post, you will type out what your character is saying and/or doing, in PRESENT tense. Here's an example (I'm using the Quote function for these example posts just to set them apart; you would NOT use it for your own posts!) :

Quote :
The Imperial Chancellor enters the Court Chamber. After receiving the general obeisance of all assembled in the Court, he says, "The Court of Her Radiant Majesty, Empress Iweko I, has now commenced."

With that, he kneels and waits for the first petition to be brought forward.

It's simple—post what you're saying in between quotation marks, and what you're doing in regular text. But keep it in PRESENT tense, as though you're actually doing and saying it in real time.
If you want to include some inner monologue for your PC—her or her thoughts—you can use italics.

Quote :
Bayushi Baka watches attentively as the Chancellor opens Court for the day. He then turns and scans the assembled courtiers.

I wonder if the Dragon are actually going to go through with that absurd petition of theirs.

Baka isn't saying the italicized bit out loud; he's thinking it. By posting his thoughts, however, he's effectively inviting someone else to notice…perhaps he's frowning at the Dragon delegation, for example. Another PC could then approach Baka and invite him into conversation, to find out more about what troubles him about the Dragon today.

Remember that you WANT to engage in interesting roleplaying with other players.  Your explicit actions and words can invite that, but so can "unvoiced thoughts" in italics. You could also describe body language, expressions and the like:

Quote :
Baka continues to stare at the Dragon delegation, his frown deepening as they approach the dais and wait for the Chancellor to recognize them.

You're really only limited by your own imagination. That said, please ensure you adhere to the posting conventions above, so that everyone is doing everything the same way.

A direct interaction between two PCs is just as above, except now posts are being made in response to other PC's posts. For example:

Quote :
Post 1:
Seeing the frown on Baka's face, Doji Sakura approaches him, bowing as appropriate. "Excuse me, Bayushi-sama, I notice that you look troubled. Are you unwell?"

Post 2:
Baka returns Sakura's bow. "Thank you, Doji-sama, for your concern. I am quite well. I am not certain the same could be said about the esteemed members of the Dragon delegation now approaching the dais, however."

Post 3:
Sakura allows a slight frown of her own. "And why is that, Bayushi-sama?"

Post 4:
"I fear that the honored children of Togashi-kami are about to dramatically overstep what would be considered a reasonable position regarding the matter of conflict between the Traditionalist and Progressive factions in the Colonies."

And so on. This exchange could go on for some time, until the two players were satisfied it was played out, whereupon they would disengage and go their separate ways. Of course, other PCs could join the conversation, while some—including the two original participants, Baka and Sakura—could leave…just like a real conversation.

A few, final but important points:

-Baka and Sakura may be only standing a few feet away from one another in our fictional Court chamber, but their two players could live on opposite sides of the Earth. Remember that there could be a significant delay—sometimes as much as hours—between posts, if players are in radically different time zones, are at work and can't post, and so on. Before you enter an important conversation, you should consider sending a PM to your counterparts in the thread regarding what sort of delays might be involved, and manage your expectations regarding responses accordingly.

-if you want to post something that's OOC, you can. Just make sure you put it in italics, enclose it in square brackets and start it with the "OOC:" tag at the bottom of your post. For example:

Quote :
Baka continues to stare at the Dragon delegation, his frown deepening as they approach the dais and wait for the Chancellor to recognize them.

[OOC: I have to go AFK for about two hours. Baka will continue to watch the proceedings from the sidelines in the meantime. If anyone wants to talk with him, it will have to wait until I return to the keyboard]

The "OOC:" tells us that it's some sort of out-of-character instructions or comments, rather than inner monologue.

-do NOT use any odd font sizes, colors or other strange ways of distinguishing text, unless you have a VERY CLEAR reason for doing so. Moreover, two colors are reserved solely for the use of the GM staff. These are purple (specifically, the purple font, #800080 in the "Font Color" picker) and red (font #FF0000). You should also avoid any colors generally close to these i.e. any shade of purple or red. Purple is used by GMs to provide nudges, comments and non-urgent instructions; red is used by GMs to provide urgent instructions or warnings (see "The Warning System" below).

Starting a Thread

Players are free to start threads in any forum EXCEPT THE IMPERIAL COURT. Threads in the Imperial Court will always be started by the Chancellor, the Regent or someone similar, generally when Court opens for the day. In any other forum, you  may start a thread by clicking on "New Topic", and then entering a subject that specifies the Day and Time, and the general Subject of the thread. The correct format is as follows:

[Day Four, Midday] A Brief Conversation by the Koi Pond

If everyone follows this convention, it will make it far easier to read and search threads.

All threads are considered "Open"—that is, anyone can join them as a participant—unless you specifically mark it as "Private". To do that, just add the "Private" tag:

[Day Four, Midday] A Brief Conversation by the Koi Pond [PRIVATE]

It's the responsibility of whomever is starting a private thread to inform those expected to participate to come join in. If you're not invited and you enter anyway, you're intruding. How the intrusion is handled by the thread participants is a matter of role playing (it's considered rude to interrupt a private conversation; this could become insulting and a matter of honor if the intruder insists on staying around). However, if someone makes a habit of intruding into private threads and the GMs are informed, a Nudge or Warning will be issued to the transgressor (see "The Warning System" below).

Notwithstanding the above, you might want to make it clear that you would like others to join in a thread you've opened. All threads are "open" by default, but it you want to make this explicitly clear, you can use the "Open" tag:

[Day Four, Midday] A Brief Conversation by the Koi Pond [OPEN]

In this case, you're essentially saying, hey everybody, come join me in this thread! We presume that anyone can come in and chat, and anyone can leave at any time. Once the thread has run its course, however, we expect the original poster to mark it "CLOSED".

Managing Your Participation in Threads

Winter Court can be exciting, with LOTS of stuff going on. However, samurai aren't omniscient, and neither can they be in more than one place at a time. That's the purpose of the Date and Time. In general, you can only be in one thread at any given time. So, if you're in the Imperial Gardens on Day Eight in the Early Evening, you can't also be in The Temple of The Seven Fortunes at the same time. Make sure you don't "double-book" yourself into multiple threads during the same Day and Time block; if you do, the GM's will choose one thread RANDOMLY as the one you were actually in and invalidate your participation  in the others!

As a matter of general guidance, it's better to be involved in fewer threads that are more meaningful, and in which you get things accomplished toward your personal and clan goals, rather than "spamming" yourself across many threads and doing a great deal of not very much. You also don't have to account for every minute of your time. If you're in one thread on Day Nine, at Midday, and don't appears in any other threads on Day Nine, that's fine; we assume you're busy doing paperwork, or meditating, or praying, or sleeping, or doing any number of "off screen" things that don't require a specific thread. Finally, we don't count "travel time". That is, you don't have to leave time in your schedule to "get from one place to another". It's perfectly fine to be in a thread in the Imperial Court Annex at Midday, then to be in a thread Beyond the Walls in the Early Afternoon; we don't need you to try to represent some time in there for leaving Court, getting back to your Embassy, changing clothes, then travelling outside the city. Yes, it would be more "realistic" to do this, but it would also be far more cumbersome and would add nothing to the story we're all trying to tell.

One Time Block, One Thread

This is the general rule—for each time block in the game, you should only be involved in one thread. In other words, on (say) Day Five,  Midday, you should only be involved in a single thread in a single location.

Now, yes, each time block is several hours long, while a single conversation is, perhaps, several minutes. So why only one thread per time block? Because it's an abstraction, a control mechanism that gives us a way of keeping things clear and straight. So the general rule is one thread per block of time.


There is a way you can squeeze in more than one thread in a given block of time, and that's by having one thread segue into another. You could participate in one thread in a given time block, then close it, saying "I'm now moving to this thread" and giving a link. It would look like this (let's say you're in the Imperial Court Annex, though this works anywhere):

Quote :
[Day Five, Early Morning} I'm In A Thread

Blah blah blah.

[OOC: I'm now moving to the thread entitled, I'm In Another Thread. Here's a link to that thread.]


Quote :
[Day Five, Early Morning] I'm In Another Thread

Blah blah blah…

Don't overdo this, though. This should only be done occasionally, and only for a specific reason. For example, maybe you have a conversation in Court at Midday that requires you to have an urgent conversation back in your Embassy, as soon as possible, because something is going to happen in the Early Afternoon. Otherwise, keep to the general rule--one thread per time block.

Closing a Thread

Conversations don't go on forever. Once a thread has accomplished its purpose, close it. The original poster can do that by amending the original subject to include the "Closed" tag. It would look like this:

[Day Four, Midday] A Brief Conversation by the Koi Pond [CLOSED]

The "Closed" tag tells everyone that the thread is done. The last post by each participant will normally describe them taking their leave, or otherwise finishing up in the thread. Once a thread is "Closed", it shouldn't be reopened without informing a GM. We'd like to have ALL threads "Closed" when they're done, so we know when something is wrapped up.

Ongoing Threads

One of the realities of Winter Court is that, even with two days of real time representing each day of Court Time, some threads will go on for more than two real days. For example, if there are two participants in our "[Day Four, Midday] A Brief Conversation by the Koi Pond" thread, and they are in widely different time zones in the real world, it may only be possible to exchange one or two posts  a day. This could result in this Day Four thread still be open and active on, say, Day Six or Seven, which could be a problem if something on one of those days is dependent on the outcome of our Koi Pond discussion. Worse, things that happen on Day Six or Seven could creep into the substance of the Day Four thread, making it seem that our samurai can see into the future. Even if inadvertent, this is metagaming and must be avoided.  Still, this sort of "time travel" is hard to avoid in Winter Court; unfortunately, there is no hard and fast way to prevent it. The best advice is to try your best to close threads as soon as you can. If you know others in the thread are in very different time zones from you, try to avoid small talk and otherwise content-light posts, and focus on getting right to the matter at hand and dealing with it.

Role Playing and Roll Playing

In a table-top role playing game, with a group of people sitting around a literal table and playing, there's a lot of interaction, but also much rolling of dice. Winter Court is obviously different; we're scattered all over the planet, in different time zones, so we can't just roll dice and let everyone see the results. This requires us to compromise in a few, but important ways:

-first of all, we want to focus on "role playing", rather than "roll playing". In other words, we would prefer that the vast majority of character interactions do NOT require dice to be rolled. The first preference is for characters to simply collaborate in their role playing. For example, if Bayushi Bob and Doji Sue are going to confront one another over a perceived slight of honor, the BEST case is for Bob's and Sue's players to collaborate, by PM, Facebook chat, texting, etc. (in other words, by some mechanism other than actual Winter Court posts in the forums) and agree on how this will play out. It may seem odd for the two players to agree that (say) Bayushi Bob will win this confrontation and Doji Sue loses, but there are LOTS of good reasons to do this--it creates an enmity between the two characters, or perhaps they end up with a newfound respect for each can set up future role playing may be part of a larger story arc the two players would like to see occur between their characters, one that even ends in a romantic relationship... In any case, if you can collaborate with another player(s) to tell a cool story, then that's the BEST approach

-if there IS a requirement for a mechanical resolution to  a contested situation, then the next alternative is to look at the relevant Techniques, Skill Ranks, Emphases, Rings, Traits and perhaps even Advantages and Disadvantages for the two characters, and try to come to  a mutually-agreeable outcome. In the above example, Bob's and Sue's players could compare (for instance) their respective character's Courtier and Etiquette Skill Ranks, and the related Awareness Trait, in a separate PM or text chat. Perhaps Bob is a Rank higher in both Skills and has a higher Awareness than Sue. We would hope and expect that Sue's player would recognize this, accepting defeat (this time, anyway) and role play the situation out accordingly.

-finally, if players can't agree, or the situation is a particularly important one, we will resort to rolling dice. We will use an online die roller for this purpose (at the time of writing, we'd intended to use Invisible Castle, but it appears to be offline; our fall-back, unless otherwise informed, will be either or; we'll determine this before Day One of Court). You will need to get a GM involved to do this. The GM will work with the players involved to get the appropriate data on Skill Ranks, Traits, Rings, Emphases, etc., then roll the dice and report the results back to the players in the thread. The results as obtained by the GM will be final; players will be expected to accept them and continue their role playing accordingly.


We've all heard the term—what does it mean, to "metagame"? Simply put, this is using knowledge you may have as a player, but that wouldn't logically be possessed by your character, while role playing your character. For example, let's say that during Winter Court, an L5R fiction is published that describes a massive earthquake in the Second City, in the Imperial Colonies (I hasten to add this is just a made-up example). If you immediately have your character start talking about the earthquake in the Second City here in Winter Court in Toshi Ranbo, you'd be metagaming; given the remoteness of the Colonies, there's no way your character is likely to know about it (admittedly, there COULD be a reason, such as magical communication…and if that makes sense for your character, that's fine. For most characters, however, it wouldn't).

Simply put, do not metagame. Immerse yourself in your character and work only off what your character would know. Not only is it a better role playing experience (who would really want to play a character who knows everything?) it's far more fair for other players. If you are careful to keep yourself in your character's point of view, inside his or her "head" while you play him or her, you'll be fine.
That said, if you do end up metagaming, it's something we'll need to address. We, the GMs, will be vigilant for metagaming, but we're asking you, the players to watch for it as well and report it to us when it does happen. If it's inadvertent, an error, we'll just ask you to fix it by revising what you posted—mistakes do happen—and carry on (hoping that the error didn't propagate into other threads; if it did, it becomes harder to fix). If you metagame deliberately, however, that's a different situation. We take metagaming very seriously; if you're clearly metagaming intentionally, you will receive a Formal Warning and be asked to correct the matter. If the situation persists, we will take whatever measures are necessary, up and including expulsion from the Winter Court event (see "The Warning System" below).

So—don't metagame.

Player Behavior

Metagaming segues nicely into our final, and perhaps most important aspect of playing in Winter Court—that of your general behavior, and the behavior of others.  To help codify what we expect, and what you should be able to expect, following the AEG Code of Conduct for its official events.


AEG Code of Conduct

Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) has assumed a leadership role in the gaming industry that strongly relies on our community. Sponsored events, official discussion forums, staff who remain accessible to the customer base, and the interactive nature of our games all speak to this. Accordingly, while AEG is dedicated to providing a superb product to its customers, it is also committed to promoting standards of responsible behavior among community members.

AEG holds the following Code of Conduct as a standard for its gaming communities, whether in person or online. This Code underlies, but does not replace, the more specific set of floor rules and sanctions for official tournaments.

Code of Conduct

What you can and should do:

•    Have fun!
•    Be polite and treat others with respect.
•    Make friends.
•    Enjoy the game(s) for being games and don’t take losses, judges decisions, or design decisions, personally
•    Immerse yourself into the setting of the environment (Rokugan for example!) to increase your appreciation for the game.
•    Familiarize yourself with the game rules and Floor Rules of a given game, and if you have questions do not hesitate to ask for clarification.
•    Once again, have fun!

What you shouldn’t do:

•    Do not harass, abuse, bully, scream at, or threaten others, or encourage others players to do so.
•    Do not encourage harm or violence against people, or promote self-harm in any manner.
•    Do not give out personal information pertaining to yourself or other persons unless you have a specific reason to do so e.g. you are subscribing to the Imperial Assembly.
•    Do not create or share any content that is offensive or discriminatory. This includes anything based on the following: Race, Ethnicity, National Origin, Language, Gender, Age, Disability, Veteran Status, Religion, Marital Status, Sexual Orientation or Expression.

Regarding Illegal Activities:

•    Follow all appropriate laws, rules, and regulations of the geographic area you are in.
•    Do not encourage anyone to break any laws, rules, and regulations.
•    Report any illegal conduct, by any person(s), to the appropriate authorities in a timely manner.

Regarding Forum/Online Behavior:

•    Familiarize yourself with the rules of the AEG webpages and forums, and follow them.
•    Likewise, know and respect the rules of any volunteer or fan-run forums related to AEG games and products.
•    Be respectful of other players, and of the Moderators who take the time to manage the online boards.
•    Give public feedback on games and events in a way that aims to improve the experience for those taking part.


Many problems can be avoided just by remembering “The Golden Rule” – treat others as you’d like to be treated!


If you violate the Code of Conduct, you will be either nudged (if the infraction is minor) or warned (if it's serious). If infractions continue, or if you do something particularly egregious, you could even be expelled from the Winter Court event (see "The Warning System" below).

Likewise, if you believe someone has violated the Code of Conduct, make sure you inform the GMs (and if you believe a GM has violated it, inform one of the Senior GMs, Muzaka or Saibankan, or the Head GM, Megumi). Failing to report violations can be almost as bad violating things yourself;  after all, if someone is behaving like a jerk to you, they might very well be doing it to other people, as well. You could end up receiving a Warning for not reporting issues of which you're clearly aware. Now, I hasten to add we're not trying to cultivate a culture of paranoia here; just use your common sense. If something makes you uncomfortable, consider if it violates the Code. If it does, or you're not sure, ask a GM. Do NOT simply let uncomfortable situations fester and get worse!

The Warning System

In order to ensure everyone is treated fairly, we have a system of nudges and warnings that escalate as circumstances demand.

Nudge- You may get a Nudge from a GM. A Nudge is just a friendly reminder that something you're doing isn't really appropriate, but not really "bad', either. An example would be an instance of obviously accidental metagaming, or an OOC thread devoted to a particular subject that wanders off-topic. Nudges generally don’t carry any prejudice or form the basis for future action. Nudges will be in purple.

Warning – If you get a Warning from a GM, you've done something more serious. You might have metagamed in a way that seems deliberate, or done something rude or offensive to another player that clearly isn't IC roleplaying. Warnings are recorded and can form the basis for future action. Warnings will be in red.

Explusion – If you do something repeatedly, despite having received a Warning, or you do something especially egregious even without having a Warning, you could be expelled from Winter Court. Only Megumi, as Head GM, has the authority to expel a player, and he will only do so after investigating the situation and, as reasonable, allowing the player (s) involved an opportunity to make their case. You may be suspended in the meantime i.e. your player account closed to you, while the matter is investigated. If you are expelled, your account password will be changed and your PC will pass to GM control. You will have no future access to the Winter Court forums, except as an observer.

Further Action – There could be rare circumstances where action beyond expulsion is warranted. The Head GM may recommend to the Major Events Organizer for AEG that an individual be banned from participating in AEG events temporarily, or even permanently, for example. If you post something illegal, then appropriate law enforcement might be notified. Again, these would be EXTREME cases and we don't expect things like this to actually arise. We mainly note them for the sake of ensuring they're documented.

The Bottom Line

It's simple--we're here to have fun, by role playing in this wonderful, maddening fictional Empire we all love. Be nasty and ruthless and scheme-y IN CHARACTER; be friendly and helpful and respectful OUT OF CHARACTER. Do that, and Winter Court 4 will be memorable for all the right reasons!

C Thomas Hand
GM/Storyteller/Swell Guy

The wisest words fit into pithy sayings.

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PostSubject: Re: Rules for the Game   Mon Dec 01, 2014 12:05 am

Obviously, no one on here is going to get booted.

C Thomas Hand
GM/Storyteller/Swell Guy

The wisest words fit into pithy sayings.

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