The Elsir Project
The Tenets of a Collaborative Game (as described by Ian Millington)
1. All players have equal rights to the game.
There are no special players who determine how the story unfolds. There are no special players who decide what happens next. Everyone has the right to contribute to the story and its resolution. There is no gamesmaster!
2. A character is not the avatar of its player.
Characters should not be the only way in which a player can influence the game. Characters are the actors in the story, but only in cooperation with the story’s setting.
3. A player is not bound to a character.
Each player should be free (and encouraged) to play more than one character, serially or in parallel. Characters may be associated with one main player (the character’s guide), but may also be played by others if the situation warrants it. This means that there are no PCs or NPCs.
All characters are played by someone. Minor characters and extras can be played by anyone. Major characters usually have a specific guide, but can also be shared.
4. Games can contain sub-games.
Sub-games explain or develop parts of the whole. They may be played by a subset or overlapping set of players from the whole game. They may be tightly integrated with the main game or loosely connected by setting or character. There may not be an identifiable main game. 4E Combat and skill challenges are examples of sub-games.
5. There are no restrictions to the medium of play.
Games can be played face to face, by letter or email, or through chat rooms and MUDs. Different sub-games can be played in different formats. Therefore, other media may be utilized to tell the story, for example journals.
6. It is a game.
It is not a storytelling framework, or a setting generation method. There should be goals that players make their characters strive to achieve. There can’t be goals that involve one player loosing and another winning. It is not a individual game, it is a team-sport.
7. The narrative is the focus.
All players collaborate to make the most exciting, beautiful, and tangible narrative possible.
8. Games are highly structured.
Games are broken down into sections and further into scenes. Play takes place within a scene, which has a definite ending. Players come out of character between scenes.
9. Storylines are complex and interwoven.
Stories are typically complex, with sub plots and character specific strands surfacing and subsiding throughout. With a whole group evolving the game, the story tends to be rich and complex.
10. Players are collaborative.
Players to have good inter-personal skills. Everyone has the same goal: to have fun. Success comes from adding a second goal: to help everyone else have fun. There may be disagreements, inconsistencies, and perhaps even some bad feeling. If they can’t be resolved, the game can’t go on.