What is appropriate and fine for one role-playing environment might not be best in another, and players brand new to a MU* type setting or even players from more sandbox orientated role-playing games might find a number of our common practices unusual. The goal of Arx is to create a story-telling environment that supports a grand interconnected epic story that weaves all the individual smaller stories of the characters together into a cohesive plot, which means that a sandbox environment that allows individuals a great deal of agency over the game world would create too many inconsistencies to effectively GM. The game is more of a sprawling ensemble show in one very large game than scores of smaller unrelated ones. To reinforce the feeling of one large story, there's some general guidelines:
1. Every player has agency over their own characters' attempted actions, but not the consequences of the attempt.
This is something fairly universal to most role-playing games, but still often gives newer players some trouble. With the pose and @emit commands, players have the ability to write or describe anything, but really need to restrain themselves from describing the results of non-trivial actions. In other words, one character trying to hit another or attempt some difficult feat cannot just assume success. This would be decided by code built into the game (such as combat), the decision of staff (a GM arbitrating a decision), or the consent of all effected players in a scene (friends RPing a social scene and just making rolls as desired for randomizing results, for example). It is not appropriate to describe the actions of another character, or the results of actions upon them, since it removes agency from the other player. Players not having control over the results of their actions means their characters will have to deal with undesired consequences of actions, such as attempting something very dangerous and dying in the attempt. Staff fully knows how difficult players often take character death, and we don't treat it lightly, but risk is necessary to add meaning to some storylines.
2. Some 'handwaving' is often necessary to tell a good story, but we don't wish to eliminate details that can create stories as well.
A character in Arx could be a penniless beggar or a leader of one of the five great houses with enormous wealth and thousands of soldiers at their command. In most sandboxes, details such as 'how wealthy is that duke?' or 'how many soldiers are in their army?' would be 'handwaved', or largely abstracted and passed over as ultimately unimportant to the story. We can respect that approach, but it isn't what we are doing here. We have a coded economy, with characters having wealth and items in game because it allows us to better capture the details around stories about scarcity or show losses or gains that might otherwise lose meaning. Therefore, on Arx a player cannot really 'handwave' what their character has or doesn't have access to, and needs it defined past a certain point. Any big collection of stories will have vague points that are undefined, but a common practice may to be define them as we meet them rather than to have small inconsistencies that add up to produce large contradictions in shared stories about the world.
3. Public RP is considered accessible to all, and everyone should feel welcomed and encouraged to interact with characters they meet on the public grid.
The grid of the city of Arx is designed intentionally so characters meet one another by happenstance and become involved in each others' stories and to foster interdependence. Of course players are welcome to have private scenes behind locked areas (such as the homes of their characters), but there is not an expectation of privacy inside public areas. While characters in public might have very valid reasons to exclude someone IC, or even to attack one another on sight due to some overwhelming IC conflict, RPing in public is treated as an invitation for strangers with a valid IC reason to involve themselves to do so and no OOC permission is required.
4. This is not a sandbox, continuity and story cohesion is extremely important and that does restrict some role-playing.
Arx will (hopefully) be a game with quite a few players all attempting to interact with an on going metaplot tying them all together. This makes staying on the same page extremely important. In-game time (moving at 3:1 real time) is a rough guide line not meant to be adhered to with military precision, but it can't be ignored entirely either. That means characters can't tell stories in public grid spaces that happen in wildly different chronological orders, such as players can't set a scene and say, 'this is happening a week ago'. That just is too disruptive to other players wandering in and trying to be on the same page. Similarly, while players should feel free to tell stories in their @emits/poses about minor events happening around them that don't effect the overall continuity of the game, they can't really fully GM the world. For example, some player walking into an inn with 10 other players and posing about a busy bar is fine, it very obviously is. Someone posing about a fire starting in the same bar is not fine, unless their character is attempting to set it and are dealing with the consequences, since that is making too many assumptions about what other characters could be doing or what protections might not be in place. We appreciate the creative effort and attempt- if someone wishes to GM stories, that's wonderful and talk to staff, we just need to keep things coherent. This just lets us avoid disruptive and jarring retcons.
5. We try not to punish players IC for simple OOC mistakes unnecessarily, and wish players to avoid doing the same.
The thematic lore for the game is far more detailed than in the help files or in the wiki to add depth and mystery, and let characters discover things. But even if everything was accessible immediately and a player read it all, some confusing and mistakes as they start is inevitable. We have zero desire to humiliate a character because their player got mixed up on some noble's title the first time they used it, or mixed up the name of a great house, or any other mistake thematically that their ultra experienced political noble would never, ever make. If someone is new, or the content is unfamiliar, we'll likely mention it ooc, let someone correct it, and move on. We aren't looking to play 'gotcha'. Now, this is entirely different from players very intentionally taking a risk and it backfiring spectacularly, or even walking unwittingly into things, or very experienced players just saying something extremely unfortunate. What we're mostly saying here is that if some player is playing a high noble and tries to execute a brand new player on a commoner for addressing them improperly out of ignorance, that would not be okay.
6. IC knowledge and OOC knowledge are kept distinct. Standard 'no twinking/metagaming/godmoding' rule.
Arx theme has an awful lot of secrets and plots going on. It is inappropriate for characters to take actions for information they cannot possess. For example, Duke Bob is planning to assassinate Count Frank. Count Frank has heard nothing about this in character, but his player hears from a friend playing an assassin's guild member outside of game this happening. Count Frank then attacks Duke Bob due to this out of character information. This would be against the rules. Characters must be told IC through clear IC means (a scene in person or the messenger command for example) in order for them to receive it. This cannot be hand-waved in order to preserve very clear distinctions of IC and OOC knowledge.
7. No spoofing using @emit and avoiding ambiguity.
The @emit command allows a player to output any text. While this may seem common sense, it is not permitted to use the @emit command to attempt to duplicate other game messages and fool a player, particularly to try to pretend a different character is talking to them. IC deception will have specific commands to do so, do not use @emits for this purpose.
8. 'Thought posing' is considered bad form when it's used as negative commentary.
Writing a character's thoughts can add a good bit to role-playing scene, but this is sometimes abused by a player writing what their character thinks in order to provide insulting or negative commentary on another character free from consequences since the other character cannot know what they are thinking. Generally any pose or emit should avoid providing information that cannot be reacted to. A pose of 'Bob thinks Fred's idea is stupid' is bad, while, 'Bob looks on with contempt after Fred says his idea' is fine.
9. Respect other players' desire for immersion and if they wish to keep things purely IC, allow them to do so.
Some players do not wish to communicate in OOC chat, and this should be respected. With IC messengers, and a constant continuity for stories, there is often very little that needs to be clarified with OOC communication, and some players find it distracts heavily from their role-playing experience. If someone never wishes to talk OOC at all, they are free to do so and only need to ever clarify matters with staff. This also means if someone has no desire whatsoever to talk about an IC dispute through OOC methods (like pages, mails, channels) and 'keep it all IC', that is absolutely their right. Often some players will attempt to abuse OOC communication to plead/bully with the players to avoid IC consequences for their actions, and other players should not be forced to deal with that.
While most players probably wouldn't need any of this explained and can pick it up easily from context and the game's culture, we thought it would be helpful to have a reference. As always, feel free to ask staff or ask in a channel if there's ever any questions.