[PROPOSAL] Signing In and Out, A Proposal of Consent and Accepting the Consequences
The organization is not what it was 24 years ago. The organization is not even what it was 7 months ago, due to the Global Pandemic. As we move towards full online roleplay in the style of MUD/MUSH via discord or other avenues, we as an organization need to adapt to the change around us. It is obvious we have failed.
The OWBN charter, no, not bylaws, not packets, the actual Charter our organization represents is being ripped apart by deceptive storytelling and predatorial players. The spirit of our organization is being thrown away by rules lawyers and “it doesn’t say we can’t” members.
For over 2 decades in this organization, in an effort to make it feel like a globally networked game, STs have hand waved disciplines being taught across game borders. They have hand waved knowledge being shared, abilities taught, and the exchange of items, all of this to promote a global, connected community.
Players have become accustomed to these practices. They should not be faulted for such.
To quote the OWBN charter now for reference.
"Accepting the Consequences
In the spirit of the game the Players accept a certain level of risk for their Character upon entering play. By signing in Players agree they have read and understand the house rules of the Chronicle they are attending and that they agree to the Storytellers’ final decisions within that Chronicle. It is the Player's responsibility to inform their Storytellers of changes to their Character occurring at another Chronicle or the Player’s home Chronicle.”
I write this missive to illuminate the term “Consent”. Consent is permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. We have Bylaws in place where it is required for Players to give consent to a scene that may involve graphic, or dark horror themed events.
So, now, with this in mind, we all have to remember that the SPIRIT of the bylaws is what we, as mature, adult individuals should be striving to keep sacred.
Veteran players to Rookies can all agree that we have made choices in our lives depending on where we choose to play our characters. A game may house rule a certain power doesn’t work, a game may rule an item card is disallowed, it has always happened.
We have lived for so long in this org that this is the standard. We show up to a random game and they look over our sheet and item cards, the Storytellers tell us what is good and what’s not, and then the PLAYER decides whether to fulfill the action of checking into the game based on that interaction.
OWBN Chronicles host many event games. They require/request sheets be sent well beforehand for the ease of the staff to have time to review everything on a sheet. They sometimes reply beforehand what will be acceptable or not allowed. Sometimes that choice happens when the player shows up, and finds numerous things disallowed or modified for the chronicle. Still, in all of these usual instances, the Player maintains the choice of CONSENT to be a part of that game’s story. They CONSENT to checking into the game after the ST has reviewed their sheet and item cards. Then they must accept the Consequences.
The point of this all, is Player Consent and the acceptance of consequences.
We as an Organization have deemed that Player consent is an important value, one that not only protects players from volatile scenes that may trigger emotional or personal issues, but one that guarantees a players right to allow their character to be within the realm of another Storytellers rights and jurisdiction.
When running things online, it is a common practice among the majority of Chronicles, Storytellers, Coordinators, and Sub Coordinators, to give a disclaimer, something, but not limited to:
“By agreeing to this scene, you agree to check your character into Chronicle X and accept the consequences of such.”
This, by and far, was the most monumental step that RESPONSIBLE people made when it is known that certain scenes and interactions cannot occur in a Live Action Role Playing setting.
It was a way that responsible staff members of this organization made an effort to tell people “Hey, this isn’t just a hand wave discipline trade, or soft roleplay. You need to check in and be prepared for potential consequences.” Sheets were requested, premeditated actions requested, item cards reviewed, etc.
What we are dealing with, by and large in this organization, is Staff feeling like they have the almighty Consent once someone agrees to a discipline exchange or a downtime scene for an item exchange between characters that is the direct result of cross chronicle roleplay.
What we have handwaved for years, and made this organization what it is, is now being micromanaged and over examined by a few predatorial games and abused by players who think they can get away with it. Games that are literally going against the spirit of the Charter and stating “It doesn’t say we can’t. It’s not binding.”
Let’s all ask ourselves if this is the organization we want, or if this is the organization we deserve here.
Imagine the duties of an ST, to have to go over every single person’s sheet who was trading abilities/disciplines with a character from another game. This could be handwaved as “insignificant”. However if the staff demands “Signing in'' they need to be upfront about it and sheets approved, item cards etc. There’ no post facto, surprise you’rE checked in.
Imagine having to go over EVERY sheet, that said they come to your game and drop off some equipment for a PC based in your game,
Imagine every single downtime roleplay where a PC from another game wants to do a scene with a PC based in your game. EVEN if the players consent to no chops etc.
It is easily imaginable for some of us. Now go through checking them all in every single time, like it was game night and it’s live…. That’s a whole different ballpark.
So why the need for this bylaw? Here’s a few Reasons:
Johnny Vampire from Kentucky(Player A) agrees to teach Bobby Vampire from Texas(Player B) fortitude. The conversation goes something like this:
“Come meet at my bar Bobby, I have a room out back. We can do the lessons there.” - Player A.
“Sure thing I got time this month, see you there.” - Player B.
Then it is agreed upon that Bobby has learned fortitude from Johnny...but suddenly….
ST from Kentucky - “Sorry Player B. I’m going to need your sheet and you are considered checked into this chronicle now. We have a roll party that has been waiting for you to come and since you agreed to do so we have to run that scene now.
Johnny Vampire’s been interacting with his NPC Mentor from the Coord’s office for sometime now. The NPC has even been passed through multiple Coords. Never once does Johnny ever suspect his Mentor to betray him, and has been sharing dozens of email exchanges where he and his Mentor have met face to face dozens of times. Never once have any chops even been thrown. So one day, when he figures he’s just having another Role Play exchange with his mentor, when he’s already described his character is in a scene, the scene pauses and the Staff Member running it informs him post facto that it is a hard proxy scene and he’s considered signed into the game now and it’s time to throw hands.
Player A’s character, Johnny Vampire is stuck in a long drawn out email scene among 30+ other players hosted by the Coord of Elysiums. The scene has been going on for two weeks. Meanwhile, he checks into his home game to find out that his Dark Fate Flaw finally is running its course, and he is killed by NPCs in his home chronicle. Now That Email scene is still going, and Johnny was the main character pushing the plot of that scene and being awesome. Now that Character is Dead, does Johnny get erased from the email scene?
Player A’s got like 7 scenes running concurrently via email and some on discord. He’s not formally signed in to all of those games. When he learns info from Scene 1 that someone is out to get him, and tries to leave in scene 6 where his enemies are. We end up with issues like “I never officially signed in” vs “Our house rules say you don’t have to”.
All in all these situations create nightmares for players and staff. They create turmoil and bad blood in the org repeatedly, over, and over again. It is time we rip the bandaid off and fix this.
It is obvious that the bylaws are outdated in respect to these points. Proposal Below:
I, Bruce Lindsay, Council Member for Springfield, IL Capital City Cauldron, do hereby propose the following addendum to Administrative Bylaws 1. Chronicles
This proposal requires a second to go to vote.
This is a CM proposal, objections are reflected in discussion and votes (should the proposal reach the voting stage). "Objections" in of themselves do not force this proposal to vote, as it can not autopass unless given general consensus.
J. Signing In and Out of a Chronicle
i. Chronicle Staff are responsible to notify players who interact with PC’s, NPC’s or the environment of the chronicle, including any actions within the territory controlled, that doing such requires an official “Signing In” to the chronicle as if they were presenting themselves at a Live Action Role Playing event. This applies across all forms of media and communication. Having a House Rule published in the OWBN directory of House Rules does not allow for this bylaw to be exempt. It is at the staff’s discretion to allow Roleplay that may be considered “insignificant” without requiring an official “Signing In” in which parties involved are not considered “Signed in” to the chronicle. A Staff may not presume that through the course of Online Role Play, a character is Officially Signed in, unless an agreement of such is documented between the staff of the game and the player via a verifiable electronic media source before said Role Play occurred. This must include any modifications to the player’s sheet, and or item cards being brought in as the character signs in.
ii . When a player deems that their character is leaving the chronicle, they may petition the Storytelling Staff to Sign Out of the Chronicle. Signing out of the Chronicle removes the Storytelling Staff’s authority over that character. Signing out must be mutually agreed upon by the Chronicle Staff and Player, and must be documented.
iii. No Character may be signed into more than one chronicle at any time.
iiii. A character is considered checked into their home chronicle at all times, unless specifically checked into another chronicle.