After the events of the last session, many players have asked how to handle player conflict and how to keep player interactions positive and fun. I have framed the discussion of player conflict, and the discussion of existing in the shared story space of our Madrigal game, as a set of guidelines for players to keep in mind while playing.
The ultimate answer is to be nice, play to lift, and consider the feelings and perspective of other players. These guidelines discuss some specific things to keep in mind to help do that. These guidelines are just that; they must be measured within the context and specifics of the game and other players. Although I feel these are good points to keep in mind during play, taking any of these to extreme levels or engaging in these guidelines in bad faith could easily move us away from better play. This is why they are presented as guidelines and, like rules of etiquette, must be approached as much in the spirit with which they are presented as the letter in which they are written.
Know our safety rules.
You are responsible for knowing the core rule book, the common rules for Madrigal, and your own skills. This is especially important when we are describing safety rules and terms. Every player has the responsibility to know our safety terms such as Caution, Emergency, Plagued, and Graceful Exit. Players should also know the various rules of etiquette. When we put out a new rulebook, it is every player’s responsibility to learn the changes.
New players are of course given a lot of leeway.
This is not about small mistakes playing game calls or using skills. We are all trying to play in good faith. This is about safety tools and rules of etiquette, and those are the responsibility of all our players.
Conflict must be fun.
Each player is responsible for making role play and game decisions that are fun. Conflict, whether it is game conflict, social confrontation, or even alternate plot engagement, should be as enjoyable as possible for all parties. The staff also strives to make consequences ultimately enjoyable and an interesting part of the overall story.
If you are going to initiate conflict with another player, and you cannot figure out how to make that fun, or if you are not sure if another player would have fun with it because you don’t know them well, then approach the problem in a different way, or enlist staff characters to help resolve the conflict.
There are in game elements to help resolve conflict.
The Illuminarium is the peace keeping force in Nocturne. We will be reinforcing that next event.
Out of game, the Illuminarium is used to help resolve conflict. If there is a conflict, the Illuminarium will try to be as fair as possible when helping to resolve the conflict, in a way that is also as fun as possible for everyone.
In game, the reason the kingdoms (I am looking at you, Vellingrim) haven’t rolled in and inserted nobles and their own influential laws is because of an agreement brokered early in the campaign, and part of that agreement is that the Iluminarium will make sure the area will not become lawless.
I was not aware of the extent to which this group was affected by rumors and reputation, and for that I apologize.
Any staff NPC can get a letter or request to the Illuminarium.
Other good and honorable staff characters can also be contacted to help resolve player conflicts, particularly if the conflict involves their areas of the story.
Don’t yell or scream during conflict.
During times of conflict, whether with a player character or a non-player character, do not yell, scream, or confront another player with a voice louder than normal conversation. This includes during combat. Your conflict voice should be measured and not rise to yelling and screaming.
Some players who are comfortable and friendly might decide to raise voices during a scene. If you decide to use raised voices among friends for dramatic effect, that’s fine but if you misjudge and you make someone uncomfortable then you are responsible for that. So be sure.
Keep conflict in game.
If something is being played out in game, leave it in game. Players who are involved can use our safety tools such as Graceful Exit to remove themselves from a scene if they feel uncomfortable.
Treat other players and their characters with respect.
Don’t trash talk other characters in or out of game. It is poor form out of game, and it is a form of Hubris in the game that goes directly against the virtue of Respect.
Respect the work of other players.
We encourage players to participate in whatever plots they wish. Once a plot enters game, it belongs to all of us. Problem solving is a big part of the game. When you do enter a story space, you should strive to respect the work and advances in the plot that other players have made. This is equally true if you are entering a new to you story space, if you missed events and are returning to a plot you previously participated in, or if you were present and disagree with decisions made in good faith by other players. We all want to celebrate and lift the play, work, and advances other players have made in the story. We want to avoid undermining those player-driven story elements either by taking actions that undo them, or by being unduly negative about the participation of other players.
Madrigal is heroic.
Madrigal is a heroic game. If you do evil acts, you invite player conflict. Eventually, when your acts are discovered, you will either become an NPC, be banished, or be killed.
Malediction is our allegory for atrocity. We have moved away from bringing most real-life atrocities into the game space as story elements and rely more and more on pure game concepts to explore heroic and moral story elements.
Madrigal has wrong answers, and consequences.
A few players used the term “big red button,” or a similar phrase, when discussing the last event. I want to address that.
Madrigal relies on consistent story elements. In addition to fostering game relationships through roleplay, it also focuses on problem solving, exploration through revealed history, and a defined moral framework with which to explore what it means to be heroic and good. We strive to make these concepts, these frameworks, and our overall cosmology and themes as consistent as possible.
To support that type of play, Madrigal is filled with – from a game perspective – wrong answers. There are wrong moral choices. There are wrong answers to riddles. There are wrong things to do on individual modules. There are wrong interpretations of the history and backstory. There are wrong tactical decisions during large scale combat. In this way, it is different than true improv and open play where there are no wrong answers. While there are also many correct answers, including answers that the staff hasn’t thought of, answers that are correct will follow the theme and story elements presented to the players.
Part of the responsibility of each player is to engage in the game enough to learn how their actions impact the story. Our goal is not to punish the player for decisions, but rather show the character the consequence of their decisions in a way that supports the story. We strive to make wins, losses, and consequences as fun as possible, while staying consistent in theme and story.