Errant Story Role Play?

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Imp-Chan
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Re: Errant Story Role Play?

Post by Imp-Chan »

Jim is dead on.

Essentially, the legal problem arises from the fact that Poe plans to write several (at last count, eight or nine) offshoot stories that take place in the Errant Story universe. He basically plans to make it a Discworld or a Xanth type of thing, in which lots of different stories occur in lots of different time periods with lots of different characters, but they're linked by being all in a recognizably same world with a similar writing voice, even if they're not directly linked by plot or characters. However, one... no, actually two, are direct sequels to Errant Story, involving some of the same characters and taking place after the events therein. Another two are... well, not prequels, since they don't immediately impact the plot of Errant Story, but they do at least tangentially involve the lives of some of the characters prior to the events of ES. The rest span a variety of major historical events or different cultures, some of which have been mentioned in the comic already, and some of which the readers know nothing about yet. Remember that Errant Story takes place in only one section of a world, not even using the whole map, and we as readers don't know what's out there off the map... but Poe does.

That's a lot going on, and there's a decent chance SOMETHING in the RPG would touch on at least one of those ideas. It would indeed suck if Poe were then unable to write an entire novel because some crucial detail were echoed here on the boards. So I need to check with our IP attorney to find out what kind of legalese we need to put in to make it so that no matter what is written here, Poe isn't going to be accused of plagiarism, and also no one is going to run off and use Poe's stuff for their own gain and coincidentally prevent Poe from doing his thing without there being legal recourse for that (not that I think anyone here would, but the internet is a big place and an RPG thread can be fodder for more than just the participants). I absolutely do not want to prevent an RPG from using the existing threads of this universe, that would ruin some of the fun, I just need to know what kinds of limits/provisos must be set to protect the players and Poe alike.

Unfortunately, it's going to cost us quite a bit of money to find that out in detail, and I'd really rather not spend that just yet, especially since this thing isn't even off the ground yet. I THINK that for the meantime I know enough that I can just draft some basic TOS that include a clause that say they can be modified if we feel we need to and players agree to abide by any future changes (even though I hate those types of contracts, they're kinda a necessity on the internet), and that will be enough to start with. I'll check that with the IP attorney tomorrow, but even so it will take me quite some time to write the TOS from scratch. Too much legalese quickly becomes blah blah blah to me, too, and I've been told the trick to writing a good contract is to put it in plain english that's nonetheless VERY clear and leaves no loopholes, so that later if there's a lawsuit the jurors will understand your points, and it will equally be harder for the opposition to claim they didn't get it. Doing that is bloody hard work, though, even though you'd think it'd be easier for not trying to sound lawyer-y.

^-^'
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Vavrek
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Re: Errant Story Role Play?

Post by Vavrek »

Well, I appreciate your dedication to the idea, Impy. And the explanation that Poe wants Errant Story to form the basis of his large series of works. That's awesome, and I look forward to following them as they come out.

Some thoughts in response to Viking, garnered from my experience with the MegaTokyo RP. (Of which I am, astoundingly, a senior member. That just never sounds right to me, y'know? I mean, me? Senior?)
Viking-Jim wrote:Do we want to establish any other limiters? Number of "avatar" characters each person can have, some sort of veto system (should one character go seriously off map and we need to stop them), a death/dying rule (what to do if a character snuffs it), a this-person-who-was-integral-to-the-plot-hasn't-been-online-in-two-weeks contingency... stuff like that.
When it comes to a veto system, I happen to like the very old method we use on the MT forums: If somebody's way out of line, get enough of the people in the game to officially declare that player persona non grata. Just stop responding to their posts and stuff in the RP at all. It doesn't really happen that often, because commonly in an RP you have to cooperate with your fellow players, and if you're being enough of an ass to be declared PNG, people probably won't play with you much.

As for the rest... We might want to impose a restriction on how many characters a person can play, we might not. Sometimes people can manage multiple characters really well and sometimes rules and restrictions get out of hand, making things unfun for anyone new who is trying to join. (Happens to a friend of mine a lot.) When it comes to an author who is Important just dropping out for a couple weeks or months... Try and rework your in-character plans around that person's absence? Institute a policy that people shouldn't be surprised if other authors borrow their characters for a post, especially if they end up in that kind of situation?

My opinion on characters just dying is that it should be handled appropriately to other characters' personalities and relationships, as it would make the most sense for the story. The policy I'm used to from the MegaTokyo RP is that each author has control over their own character, so they are the ones who decide if that character lives or dies, which reduces the need for policies about it. (If you want your character to die, you can handle it in the way which you think is most appropriate.)
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Re: Errant Story Role Play?

Post by Weirdonian »

We might want to impose a restriction on how many characters a person can play, we might not. Sometimes people can manage multiple characters really well and sometimes rules and restrictions get out of hand, making things unfun for anyone new who is trying to join.
I agree. Years ago, when the Multiverse FFRPG was active, I went in search of forum-based FFRPGs for research into how to make ours better. I was unimpressed with what I found and it was mostly due to the tyrranical and arbitrary rules systems they imposed, and some I'd even describe as being very hostile environments. In the end, I found exactly zero RPGs that were anything as remotely free-form as the Multiverse was (course, this was several years ago and I haven't gone looking much since then so things may have changed, but I doubt it). I've never been very interested in any rules-heavy RPG system because for me it just wouldn't be much fun having my imagination chained to some arbitrary rules that gave the GMs way too much power. I mean, I'm glad people obviously like those systems, but a long time ago I pledged that any forum-based RPG I was involved with would have to be both free-form and free.
When it comes to an author who is Important just dropping out for a couple weeks or months... Try and rework your in-character plans around that person's absence? Institute a policy that people shouldn't be surprised if other authors borrow their characters for a post, especially if they end up in that kind of situation?
This unfortunately became a major problem in the Multiverse In the last few years (Jim can attest to this, which I suspect is why he brought it up), there were so few of us that the RPG almost couldn't function at all if even one member went away for a long period of time; this eventually put the Multiverse into the coma it is presently in. Because of the Multverse's story-heavy, world-building-heavy system, it was extremely difficult to resolve this problem. Just how do you write for/around entire empires, galaxies and universes because one or more members aren't around for long periods of time? As GM, I took on as much of the abandoned characters, species, and empires that I could, but it really was too much for me to do. By the time I changed the rules to make it a little harder for new members to weild entire universes, empires and large numbers of characters, it was too late to really make much of a difference. Thankfully, I don't think an Errant Story FFRPG will have quite as much difficulties in this area, especially since it's set in a somewhat finite, already-built world and if there are more than three to five of us writing.

We should also decide on how much we may want to push the envelope of the Errant Story RPG Universe. Remember, it will essentially be it's own, alternate universe in relation to the canonical world of Errant Story, so we could potentially get away with stories and elements that would very likely never be in Errant Story. And, from what Impy has said, tweaks on our part to the ES FFRPG Universe might work out better legaly, maybe?
Ah, Weirdonian, the guy with the avatar. (Seriously, man, that's a cool avatar.)
Thanks :mrgreen:
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Sareth
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Re: Errant Story Role Play?

Post by Sareth »

Perhaps a selection fo rules, followed by a selection of guidelines?

In my personal case (I won't speak for Vavrek) I know that in the MegaTokyo game there have been times I've been hampered by absent players. In my case I attempt to find work arounds, such as alternate players who can accomplish the same thing for my character(s) etc. When it comes to me being the absent one, I attempt to notify people ahead of time. And, if I've extablished a reasonable relationship of trust with the player (Vavrek, for example, being one of those) I am willing to let them write my characters for me for limited time periods, because I trust them to know my characters well enough to pull it off. Not everyone can do this, however. So... That is a tough one. Honestly, I think that one's going to have to be handled on a case by case basis. So that would be a guidline... "Please try to handle any upcoming absences with the interests of others in mind. If it will be long enough, write the characters out believably, or turn them over to someone you trust to write them for you."

On character fatalities, if the story calls for it (ie. it'd be a worthy, plot promoting death) I'm willing to let my character(s) get killed off. To me, it's more important to have a good story to which I contributed in a meaningful way, than it is to "win by being the last man standing." But here, death is pretty darned big a deal. So just treating it casually, killing off another players character even if it would enhance the plot, can lead to very real hurt feelings. I do believe this is one where the rule should be "Don't Kill Other Players... unless they say it's okay. Common courtesy and all that. ESPECIALLY as Ian has established there is no 'Rez plz.'"

Multiple characters per player... I've seen that done VERY well by some people. Unfortunately, I've also known people who spend so much time creating and introducing new characters, the characters never get more than one or two scene before they are forgotten... This kind of spams up the game and leads to all kinds of hesitance to interact with new characters, and can even result in the one or two characters that player DOES write more than a few times slowly being dropped in favor of the new ones that won't get anywhere, leaving people who had been interacting with them somewhat up a creek. This one I'd say... Guidline. "We don't recommend more than one or two characters per player."

Player vs. Player. This is one I thought of a short bit ago, that should be addressed I think. ES is a world that has some clearly antagonistic factions. The Ensigerum vs. the Wraiths, Elves vs. Errants, The Church of Varacia vs. Sanity... So I think it should be asked, if we did establish such a game, how PvP would we want it to be? Would we be trying to create cooperative parties? Or would it be perfectly acceptable to have the game involve factional fighting? I, personally, enjoy such conflicts, and am quite willing to let my characters get their asses handed to them in the name of a good adventure. In fact, I'm even willing to be "the bad guy" who kicks the dog and steals lolipops so someone else can be the hero. But, that runs the risk that if you get players who Must Win The Game, For They Are Bad Ass! it can make for tough PvP interaction as each basically uses their writing to say "I got you!" "No, I got you!" "Nuh uh!" "Uh Huh!" "I'm rubber, your glue!" How would we want to handle that?

EDIT: Oh, and one more question... Are there certain behaviors that should be addressed in the rules? Between Jon and Sarine's little tension and Meji's attempts to seduce Ian, we kind of get the idea that the world of ES is a fairly earthy place, with a healthy (or, in Meji's place, psychotic) appreciation for male-female relations. BUT, there may be limits we really don't want crossed. We may want to have a rule (not a suggestion, a hard and enforcible rule) regarding what lines should not be crossed...
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Imp-Chan
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Re: Errant Story Role Play?

Post by Imp-Chan »

The boards are nominally supposed to be work safe.

^-^'

Edit: Even if there is an EN game at some point, the boards are still supposed to be work safe. The Baka Fairy will no doubt enforce this as needed.
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Re: Errant Story Role Play?

Post by Viking-Sensei »

Work safe, to me, usually implies a lack of images, sounds, videos, or links which are unsafe... that a person clicking on the forum isn't going to have their boss behind them and go "Are they... is that... a carrot? Smith, you're fired!" Text is much harder to make non-work-safe...
UNLESS IT'S HUGE!

So as long as you don't do that, we're probably nominally fine.
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Sareth
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Re: Errant Story Role Play?

Post by Sareth »

Oh, indeed! But then, what constitutes work safe? I've known people for whom written materials implying a little non-marital hanky panky was not appropriate (pansies.) And other who figured as long as you weren't describing things blow by blow, it was fine. For legal and communal safety, I'm just suggesting we may want to define that to a degree so there are no surprises if/when the Baka Fairy shows up, mallet in hand. We can point to a defined standard.
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Re: Errant Story Role Play?

Post by Imp-Chan »

Despite my love of lurid and graphic trashy romance novels... I find that Tab A into Slot B is boring and not at all necessary for a good romantic or even sexual plot. Thus, I'd prefer that graphic scenes be avoided on the forum.

A little strong innuendo is fine with me, though.

^-^'
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Re: Errant Story Role Play?

Post by BloodHenge »

If a physical encounter is necessary, a "fade to black" should suffice.
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Re: Errant Story Role Play?

Post by DarkIntruder »

Imp-Chan wrote:Despite my love of lurid and graphic trashy romance novels... I find that Tab A into Slot B is boring and not at all necessary for a good romantic or even sexual plot. Thus, I'd prefer that graphic scenes be avoided on the forum.

A little strong innuendo is fine with me, though.

^-^'
Heh. It's like eating a pie and finding out there's no filling! ;)

Only joking.

You're right of course. Then there's the slight creepiness of writing sex into a roleplay when most of the players are in fact male. Just a little weird.

But apart from that, you can write around it. Nothing explicit, but bordering on it.


I will also agree with Sareth in that, if it comes to a point where my character needs to die, and it advances the plot, I'm willing to let it happen.


Also, in order to keep people in the game, would it be possible for a player whose character has died to rejoin with a new character? Or does that just cheapen life in the game?
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