The Elsir Project
The Rules of the game
Before the session, the roles of Game Engineer, Alpha Director, Referee, and Chairperson are assigned. Ideally, the game Engineer knows the rules well, the Referee is impartial, and the Chairperson is aware of the social contract and what it entails. The Alpha Director is responsible for being the story leader for the scene. All other players make up the duties assigned (if any) and are betas in the story.
1. There is no game master. Instead, storytellers that direct the narrative.
One player of the group is designated as the Alpha Director. The Alpha leads the story. The Alpha may change when the perspective of the game changes within the cast of characters or when scene changes. For example, when the story takes the players outside of a city, another Alpha may tell the story on the way to the next city. There can be multiple stories going on in the group, usually with a different Alpha running that narrative.
Those that support the Alphas story line are called Betas. Betas react to the story told by the Alphas, making decisions within the story. Their actions may therefore change the outcome of the story, the fate of their character(s,) and create possible new story lines through play.
Alpha’s should prepared their story outline or ideas prior to the game session to ensure smooth play. Alphas should allow their story to be flexible and react to the decisions and ideas of the other narrators. The Alpha’s character(s) under his or her control may steer the narrative interactions with the Betas narratives. Or the alpha may create environments or situations that drive the story forward.
Because the Alpha chooses his character to lead the story, they in essence determine the level of the adventure. Player characters must choose among their characters a character that is no more than five levels from the Alpha Directors character.(see Character Creation)":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaign/the-elsir-project/wikis/creating-characters
All other players are considered Beta directors, and follow the Alphas story.
During the game a Beta may become an Alpha only if the current Alpha agrees to relinquish control. For example, a Betas creates a story line hook that is pursued by the players. All of which must follow the Tenets and the social contract.
2. A character is not a player’s avatar.
Rather, the players may take many roles of characters within the game. Players may be as detailed as they want on characters in the game and may create as many as they wish to control, even if they are present in the scene for a little time and then forgotten. (see Character Creation)
Players will also be required to control any other characters in the game, including foes.
3. Handling Challenges:
Occasionally, the Alpha Director may place challenges on the Betas. Conflicts are handled through interactions of narrative and resolved through game mechanics. Usually, the players will follow the “yes or roll philosophy”: either you can do it or you need to roll. Basically, the narrative should allow for things to happen rather than to prevent things, so long as it follows the tenets and social contract.
The Game Engineer is responsible for interpreting the rules.
The game Referee decides ruling when the rules are unclear.
The Alpha Director and only the Alpha Director has the privilege in initiating a combat or skill challenge. Beta’s may allow for such events to occur, but the Alpha decides if the challenge will be played out. For example, the party encounters city guards and the Alpha may decide through narrative the party stays to fight them, tries to talk to them or they try to run and lose them in the alleys. In any case, the Betas must follow the story line laid out before them.
Skill and Ability Roles: During the game, characters may need to make ability and skill roles if the actions in the story carry significant consequence. Based on the game mechanics, the player uses the appropriate skill or ability, describing what they are doing and determining the results. The Game Engineer determines what the mechanics will be used and sets the challenge (unless the player already makes a suggestion). When a discrepancy occurs, such as “it is impossible” or “really close”, the referee makes the final judgment.
Skill Challenges: Skill challenges are considered sub-games. Skill challenges are utilized when the narrative requires the characters to solve a complex problem, conflicts, or challenges that have consequences for failure either immediate or future. For example, a skill challenge would be utilize for the character to try and cross a large chasm or sneak into a citadel without alerting the guards. Typically, skill challenges require the use of multiple skill checks using different skill rolls.
Based on the narrative, the Game Engineer determines what the mechanics will be used and sets the challenge difficulty. When a discrepancy occurs, the referee makes the final judgment. The Alpha Director determines what the success and failure of the skill challenge results, understanding that the narrative can not be stopped by a failed skill challenge. If the Alpha cannot come up with a narrative, the Referee or Chairperson may create one and move the game along.
Combat: Combat is considered a sub-game. If during the scene, a combat is desired, the Alpha director may utilize foes in a simulated combat. These foes can be from the Alphas pool or from the Betas pool of foes. In every case, the players control their foes and may have them act as they wish.
Combat need not be balanced but Alphas may want to reconsider placing a high level foe in the battle if the intended narrative is for it not to be defeated. However, in those cases, pure narrative or a skill challenge would be a better tool. If you don’t wish a foe to meet an untimely end prior to your story, it is best to not introduce him into a combat simulation.
Leveling Encounters:(Proposal) Players may utilize any of their characters regardless of level if they fall within five levels of each other. Challenges may be leveled withing five levels of the average party level. For example, a party of four characters composed of a Level 7, Level 5, Level 2, and Level 3 players would be average Level 4 and could be challenged with up to level 9 challenging encounter (1800 xp) but foes in the encounter could be no more than level 7 (elites, standard, solo, minions or hazard). This allows for players to play any of their characters with each other though the 7th level character would not be in as much danger in the battle and therefore not receive a substantial amount of experience. In the previous example, a level 5 encounter (700 xp) would be considered average.
Alternative level averaging:(Proposal) An alternative to averaging level is to use average XP.reward
4. Making Proposals
Players have the ability and are encouraged to make proposals for new rules, changing rules, eliminating rules, or adjusting the social contract to make the game work. A player may make a proposal out of session to the players. It may be debated, revised, or given a trial run, and finally voted to be included in the rules. The Majority vote wins approval. A non-vote (i.e “i don’t care” or didn’t bother to read their emails) is considered a “YES” vote.
Making proposals in session: A player may make a proposal in session. The proposal is given no more than 5 minutes to be presented and debated. The designated Chair Person rules if the proposal should be brought to the vote, assuming it does not invalidate the social contract.
During the vote, all but the designated referee votes. A non-vote (i.e “i don’t care” or “I don’t know what your F@*%ing talking about!”) is considered a “NO” vote. In the case of a tie, the designated Referee cast the final vote.
Once a proposal agreed, it is included in the Game Rules/Contract and implemented immediately.
After every combat encounter, Betas may decide rewards are given out based on average party level. In each case, one player, the lowest level PC decides the first reward which can be up to his or her level +5 magic item. The next reward goes to the next lowest level PC, earning an his or her level +4 item, and so one, until it becomes their character level, after which, the reward becomes 100gp x average party level in treasure.
The Beta may place the reward at any point in the story, even with other rewards. This allows for the players to create “realistic” expectations of treasure (i.e. finding the bandits hideout cache rather than getting it every time they fight off a bandit patrol). The reward need not be want the beta desires (i.e. he may gain a reward to give to another player) but they should be the treasure for the player in most cases. To speed up the game, players want to consider what
they desire or receive them at the end of the session so they may look them up before next session.
The Alpha never receives a treasure reward. Instead, he or she gains bonus XP at the end of their session of 100 x average level of the party for which they may distribute among their character heroes. This is interpreted as an incentive for a variety of Alpha Directors to participate and to discourage the same Alpha at all sessions, who would lose out on treasure.
A Beta may choose to forgo a Reward and save it for when it comes around again in another session. In which case, he/she may upgrade his/her reward (i.e. turn a level +4 item to a level +5 item or turn a treasure reward into a magic item at average level). The maximum level an reward can go is level +5 and he/she may use the forgo treasure on any of his characters in any other session.
A Beta may also forgo a magic item and instead take the monetary equivalent of the item in gold pieces.
Awarding Experience:(Proposal) After a session, the players gain experienced based on the average party level and on any skill challenges or combats they participate in. The Experience points are then distributed to any of the player’s characters as he wishes. Only heroes may use experience; companions, and minions do not though a player may earn XP when playing such a character.
After the end of a session, each player receives 100 x average party level in experience in addition to the encounter and skill challenge experience awards. It is quite possible to play a session that has no combat or skill challenges but still garners the players experience points for participation.
6. Resting and Recharging Powers(proposal)
It is assumed that at the beginning of every session, players have all hit points, daily powers and action points at the start of the adventure. A session in the game is considered one day of adventuring, even if several days pass for traveling purposes (i.e. seven days pass at sea). The purpose of this limitation is to not abuse the extended rest in the story and to keep the game session balanced. If players consistently have their resources recharged between challenges, then it reduces the challenge of the game and it becomes stale.
Regaining Action Points: By game rules, action points are replenished when player reach a milestone. The Referee determines when a milestone is reached in the game. It need not be based on encounters alone, but rather, what has happen in the story. In any case, players are restricted from using an action point only once an encounter. Actions used outside of challenges (combat and skill challenges) have no game effect.