RPG - Bill of Players' Rights & Duties

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  • As far as boring stuff… we try to share the burden of boring stuff in our group, like I don't track their xp for example, I have them do it, and the same goes for scheduling games, we take turns.
    Sandra, this refers to stuff that is boring for characters (and for the player, of course).
    For instance, respecting this simple right would wipe away most of the rolls needed for doing "boring" things, such as trivial tasks and so on. :)
    Rob

  • Some boring things need to be done in order to get to awesome later.
    But I don't call for a lot of rolls.

    Anyway, I submitted my votes already for all of the categories.
    I don't mean to make the thread all about me.
  • Maybe instead of a bill of rights, we need an underlying philosophy of where the rights of players of RPGs come from. The people writing the Bill of Rights of the United States figured that God gave them to everyone white and male. From where do these supposed RPG-players rights spring?
  • Jason, I was thinking more in terms of the European labor movement, unions and syndicates; this is a list that players could present to their GMs and say "do this, or we strike, or we won't play". That's also why I care so much about the list.
  • I don't remember exactly the reason of birth of the bill for interactive fiction but I guess it's very near to the approach of Sandra.
  • So my gag should have been less George III and more Pearl Bergoff? Ronald Reagan fired all the RPG players and hired scabs who are fine with their characters getting unfairly treated.
  • Huh. Putting it all on the GM seems like a bad idea to me. I'd prefer to treat such a Rights list more the way I treat plausibility and immersion in Delve -- yeah, the GM spends the largest percentage of play performing the crucial tasks, but really it's up to everyone at the table to make the game what everyone at the table wants it to be. That includes reminding or overriding the GM if necessary. I also think, in the case where a group is playing a game that they don't yet know inside and out, a good Rights list defines the limit beyond which the group will cease to obey the rulebook or module.
  • edited June 2016
    Then the Bill of Player rights should actually be a checklist like the one Sandra wrote before in the thread, so every player can check what they want in their own checklist and then they make a unified one based on everyone's choices, discussing whatever item they didn't agreed on. This checklist should include all kinds of rights for many different types of play and perhaps even space for players to suggest their own.
  • Yes, and they could have some deliberately contradictory elements

    "Players have the right to risk their character's lives" vs "Players have the right to let their characters be safe from death"

    We could finally have an open source alternative to the S-me P-ge T--l!
  • Hmm about the right to terminate the campaign without warning, well, that's actually the right of the GM anyway and it happens quite often. I mean, perhaps it's some plroblematic player that it's ruining the campaign, perhaps the interest decreased from either the player's side or the GM's side, perhaps other personal problems or lack of time may affect the GM, and sometimes things happen with a timing that doesn't even allow to give players a warning.

    So, while it feels somewhat unfair to the rest of the players, nobody can do a thing if the GM just doesn't continue the campaign, except to deal with it. No bill of rights will change that anyway.
  • There seems to me to be a distinct difference between one person in the group or all deciding to stop playing and some kind of in-game action which can end play despite the wishes of others. Of course, a game can always end if key people decide they don't want to play anymore. However, in some games character death could keep someone from playing *while they still want to* (and possibly while everyone else wants them to, as well), and that's something completely different, in my opinion.

    Given a specific case like character death, we could formulate the right thus:

    * If my character dies, I have the right to continue to be included in the game (e.g. rolling up a new character, becoming co-gm, etc).

    It would be pretty rare (but not completely unthinkable!) for a GM to be sidelined in some fashion, as well. We once started playing before the GM showed up, and had a really fun session (it turned into something like a mini-LARP). I could imagine a group doing something like that and not allowing the GM to join in even if they did arrive. (I've seen groups take a whole session to carry out prep or planning for the next stage of the campaign, which could exclude the GM for hours on end, as well.)
  • edited June 2016
    Ok, then hereby I propose the Checklist of Player Rights:

    Comunication
    ☐ To be offered clear communication both about the rules and the fiction, and the chance to ask others to repeat their input. // To expect player distraction be translated into character distraction ☐
    ☐ To be able to contribute, during all the lenght of the game, and have my contribution taken seriously. // To be guided into a particular experience without noticing the rails ☐
    ☐ To know how the game is getting on // To have a mystery atmosphere the whole session ☐
    ☐ Not to be given too many red herrings // To face real informational challenges ☐
    ☐ To be told if reasons behind a particular decision/veto are because of actual physical or psychological problems/issues/sensibilities // To expect players to keep their personal troubles to themselves and out of the table. ☐
    ☐ To find a good reason behind any kind of blocking and being able to contribute to it if I feel it's insufficient // to expect players to collaborate with their silence when they spot holes on the plot ☐
    ☐ To receive a proper feedback from the GM/group. // To not be treated as audience, but as players ☐
    ☐ To give and be given enough energy, instead of just traffic management // To be offered just traffic management and a totally impartial judgement over fictional situations
    ☐ To not get nagged, attacked nor mocked // To have a relaxed relationship over the table, with no respect demanded but earned ☐
    ☐ To not be expected to know what's logic or common sense for the setting // To expect a reward for thinking and acting within the logic and common sense of the setting ☐
    ☐ To have our creativity/spontaneity more stimulated // To not have the responsability of introducing content to the game ☐
    ☐ Not to need to be of a certain cultural/geographical background // To expect a reward from applying familiarity with a particular cultural/geographical background on the game ☐

    Rules
    ☐ To have consistent rules, rulings and practices along the duration of the game but being able to question them and offer alternatives when those create problems in play. // To have rules and rulings change and pop up as needed for the game to stay fresh. ☐
    ☐ System data (like opponents stats) shall be known and dice shall be rolled openly. // To not being shown information my character shouldn't be able to know ☐
    ☐ To see intuitive play, good thinking, roleplaying, tactics and storytelling triumph over rules and/or luck. // To have system mastery and/or luck influence the game ☐
    ☐ DM should be expected to follow the rules if the players are. // Rules shouldn't get in the way of the experience the DM wants to convey ☐
    ☐ To not stay overlong on mechanics // to be able to take my time navigating through the mechanics as written ☐
    ☐ To share boring game-related chores // to not be expected to do other's boring game-related chores

    Game Flow
    ☐ Not to need to do or say unlikely/boring things either in character or as a player // to expect fiction mimic reality even in the need for repetitive or precise actions ☐
    ☐ To risk character's life. // Not to have the game closed or being eliminated as a player without warning ☐
    ☐ To not overextend the sessions duration or campaign lenght // To be able to play as much as we want ☐
    ☐ To quit playing for any reason // To see the fictional story developed until the end ☐
    ☐ To have a spotlight time equal to the rest of players and be able to interrupt it and seat back when I consider it necessary for my comfort. // To see rewarded my efforts to earn extra spotlight time ☐


    3rd Edit: Added opposite rights. It still requires more editing and perhaps there's something missing, so let me know what it is. It's a work in progress, please be patient.
  • I don't see a problem of something missing.
    In my personal taste, it's too long (and so, potentially redundant).
    I think that we can consolidate around 10-12 'rights' based on "general principles".
    Rob
  • edited June 2016
    I can't understand why the "to be mocked" thing is even in there? Is this a language barrier thing? I want the right to not be mocked.
    Also a lot of things I want (the right to risk the character's life, the expectation that boring chores will be shared, the right to quit playing for any reason) are missing
    I'll just wash my hands of this whole thing. Jason, I'm with you!
  • Hmmm yeah, language barrier, and I thought not checking boxes could be clear enough to meant you are enforcing the opposite right, let me edit a bit then. Perhaps it needs to be in a double column where opposites can be checked separately?
  • edited June 2016
    @WarriorMonk
    It could help.

    @2097
    Keep in mind that also for IF there were people saying that:
    "Hey, I like sudden death."
    This did not imply for Graham not to write the bill.
    Simply, he just wrote down a list of rights in which "most of the players recognized".
    Everyone of us can write down his/her own list but what we should be able to do here is to have the "least common multiple" between us.
  • Ok, let's try one step ahead.
    First I'll conclude Graham Nelson's list, then I'll take into consideration all the other lists proposed to see if they fit into a common schema.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Underpinning principles
    Principle of Berg - The following rights apply to every game given the caveat "unless the player consents or rules enforce otherwise" and apply to no games given the caveat "contrary to agreements and expectations".

    List or rights

    Right #1 (restated) - Player Characters should not be killed without warning and/or useful hints to avoid it (especially if character death means end of play for a player). - (Merges right#1 and right#2 of Graham List)
    Right #2 - Playing arc (intended as the complete expected duration of an rpg game, it maybe a campagin, a one-shot or whatever...) should not be terminated suddenly without warning. - (Merges right#3, right#4 and right#5 of Graham List)
    Right #3 - Players should not be forced to do unlikely or boring things with their characters to progress in the game. (Merges right#6 and right#7 of Graham List)

    Let's try one step further.
    From G. Nelson, merging:
    8. Not to have to type exactly the right verb
    9. To be allowed reasonable synonyms
    10. To have a decent parser

    Right #4 - Players should put the most possible effort to understand each other during the game, with particular focus about wording and fictional terms used during the game.(Merges right#8, right#9 and right#10 of Graham List)
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Feedback on right#4?
    Rob
  • I like Rights 1, 2 & 3! They seem like a coherent unit: "Here's stuff to look out for!"

    Right 4 doesn't seem to fit that. Seems more like an underpinning principle or something.

    Perhaps we can just say "not applicable" to Nelson's 8-10.

    Alternatively, you could sub in the GM for the parser:

    "Not to have to give the exact response the GM had in mind." Something like that.
  • @David_Berg
    Yes, we could say "not applicable" but I think that we may extend in a general sense Nelson's 8-10.
    What Nelson was meaning is "there should not be obstacles in how you refer to objects/verbe during game and how you describe your actions to be processed by the game."
    In a general sense this may be intended as: "Hey players, please spend some effort to understand each other when you refer to fiction. If you do not understand each other spend additional effort to clarify. "You cannot do that. Full stop." (like a parser) is not the right response between humans.
    What do you think about that?
    Rob
  • "Hey players, please spend some effort to..." is not a right. It's a how-to. It's good advice. It's principle or methodology. But I don't think it belongs on the same list with 1-3.

    Can you translate what you're thinking into "rights" language?

    If you want to abandon rights language and include "good ways to play", feel free, but I think it'll make your list less distinctive and memorable, and more interchangeable with the infinite volumes of advice already out there.
  • Yes I can try. :)
    But first I had to check for your agreement otherwise it's a monologue. :)
  • I agree that there's a kernel of truth in there somewhere. I don't think "please spend some effort to understand each other when you refer to fiction" gets at it meaningfully.

    I like my proposal much better, re: "exact response" and the like. I think we can imply rather than state that fiction communication in general is important, while making a more concrete point about one or more rights within that.
  • edited July 2016
    Second try, after a clarification, keeping in mind that focus of rights 8, 9 and 10 of Graham deal with the communication between player and the game.

    From G. Nelson, merging:
    8. Not to have to type exactly the right verb
    9. To be allowed reasonable synonyms
    10. To have a decent parser

    Right #4 - All Players have to do their best to clarify, or to help other players to clarify, what they really want to happen in the fictional world through their characters, so that, if a referee exists, no mis-interpretation leading to a bad experience may occur. (Merges right#8, right#9 and right#10 of Graham List)

    @David_Berg, sounds good to you?
    Also, it's time to call the list "Lisf of Rights and Duties", because some post ago someone had the right intuition.
    Rob
  • edited July 2016
    I've found the time to complete the rights and duties based on Graham Nelson's list. I leave them to your discussion, if any, and will try to implement the other lists or see if they fit into the general scheme.
    I'm going to report the list in the first post of the thread also.
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    Underpinning principles
    Principle of Berg - The following rights apply to every game given the caveat "unless the player consents or rules enforce otherwise" and apply to no games given the caveat "contrary to agreements and expectations".

    List of rights and Duties

    Right #1 - Player Characters should not be killed without warning and/or useful hints to avoid it (especially if character death means end of play for a player). - (Merges right#1 and right#2 of Graham List)
    Right #2 - Playing arc (intended as the complete expected duration of an rpg game, it maybe a campagin, a one-shot or whatever...) should not be terminated suddenly without warning. - (Merges right#3, right#4 and right#5 of Graham List)
    Right #3 - Players should not be forced to do unlikely or boring things with their characters to progress in the game. (Merges right#6 and right#7 of Graham List)
    Right #4 - All Players have to do their best to clarify, or to help other players to clarify, what they really want to happen in the fictional world through their characters, so that, if a referee exists, no mis-interpretation leading to a bad experience may occur. (Merges right#8, right#9 and right#10 of Graham List)
    Right #5 - Player Characters must have a reasonable freedom of action and luck should not be the main driver of the game.(Merges right#11 and right#12)
    Right #6 - Players have the right to understand the context of a play setting, including the reasons of impossibility to make actions or to reach objectives. At least this must be explained at the end of the playing arc. (Merges right#13 to right#17)
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
  • These all sound like rights and duties to do with player choices which interact with character success. That's a good thing to explore, but it seems pretty limited in scope.

    What about things like, "Players have the right to portray a fictional character that is quite different from themselves without being mocked or ridiculed?" Something like that would fit in an entirely different category, I feel.

  • @Paul_T that sounds interesting.
  • My point is merely that the list of Rights, so far, is exploring just a tiny corner of issues important to a game group (in my opinion). It would be nice to branch out a little!
  • I only fear tha branching would lead to uneffective results.
  • I'm not sure what you mean by that, but I feel so far we are only attacking this from one angle.

    For instance:

    Right #2 - Playing arc (intended as the complete expected duration of an rpg game, it maybe a campagin, a one-shot or whatever...) should not be terminated suddenly without warning. - (Merges right#3, right#4 and right#5 of Graham List)
    That sounds like a good thing. However, I feel that a much more fundamental right/duty would be:

    * Each player (GM included) clearly knows what is expected of them: how long the game will be, how often they will meet, and what their responsibilities are during that time.

    For instance, if I'm invited to play with some folks on Tuesday night, and I go, and have a good time... but then I find out that they've just been assuming that I would be able to come back every week and they've been prepping a campaign which would take two years to play out, and involves my character in an important role (e.g. the Chosen One of the campaign!), there's been a serious miscommunication.

    Same goes - for instance - for knowing rules and/or bringing resources with you. Is a player holding up the game if he doesn't know the rules for his character's abilities, doesn't own his own dice, or didn't bring a rulebook describing his chosen feats/spells? What if he forgets his character sheet each week?

    Will the players feel let down or misled if the GM shows up with nothing prepared for the session?

    So that's just one example. The Rights so far are good, but only dealing with a narrow slice of what roleplaying is, I feel.

  • Players don't have any rights or duties other than those we all have as human beings, for all people play games at some point in their life, and God gave us all our rights, and charges us to love our fellow human beings as He loves us.
  • Well, technically "she" but you get the picture
  • I think the implied idea is, rather, "What rights would it be *nice* to have in a roleplaying context?"

    Of course no one is ever going to jail for killing a player's character or showing up to a session unprepared...
  • What I'm saying is that killing a player's character can be done with love and kindness towards the humans at the table or it can be done with cruelty, and it's the presence or absence of kindness and love that makes killing a player's character right or wrong, like the virtue or wickedness of any non-game action we all might take.
  • edited July 2016
    I agree with you there (although I think it's more about properly communicated expectations than kindness, although that certainly helps)! Let's not get sidetracked on a minor example, however - I think we've already hashed out "character death" earlier in the thread. (It has nothing to do with killing characters and everything to do with whether the player can keep playing the game or not, as well as whether they were aware of the stakes in the first place.)
  • Kindness involves and requires communication of expectations; they are not separate ideas. The mugger who stabs me might use the same scalpel as my surgeon, but he's not being kind. What I'm saying is that each and every thing on this list, not just character death, only makes sense in the context of genuine emotional care between the participants, like every other interaction they will ever have.
  • If you're using the word "kindness" to mean basic human dignity, understanding, and basically being a "good person", then, yes, it arguably applies to, well, everything. Not sure how useful that is to us, exactly.

    I can think of a million things (like failing to communicate the length of a campaign, playing a game while using a module like Tomb of Terrors and trying to be a brutal and impartial referee, trying to screw over others while playing Paranoia, etc) which would never come to mind for a typical person when they think of the word "kindness". When I'm playing a game and it asks me how many tokens I want to bid in order to screw over my opponent so I can win the Objective by crippling his ability to keep defending himself, I don't think "kindness" is a natural place for the human brain to go.

    If you're making a larger point - that all roleplaying is a social endeavour, and we do best at it when we are kind and respectful to each other - then of course you are spot-on.
  • I don't think any of these rules would produce a game I want to play in or run. To me, this seems like coming up with a list of 'rights' that is really just about enforcing a particular play style. Nothing wrong with having a play style and preferring it over others, but framing it as a moral issue of rights? For a lot of people the fact that characters can die without warning is what makes play exciting. For a lot of us, having a guaranteed story arch is the last thing we want (to me that just feels artificial). If it is possible for my character to die without warning, that isn't a violation of my rights as a player, that is my taste being catered to.
  • Of course being mean in Paranoia is kindness! There is no greater kindness than getting someone to laugh! Come on.
  • Bedrockbrendan,

    Hence my point about it really being an issue of expectations. If I'm playing a game where my character could die without warning, that's great! But I think the game will be better if all the players know that going into the game.

    JD,

    I don't disagree. But telling a bunch of people to "play with kindness" will not magically achieve Paranoia-style play. There's other stuff to be discussed for that.
  • Bedrockbrendan,

    Hence my point about it really being an issue of expectations. If I'm playing a game where my character could die without warning, that's great! But I think the game will be better if all the players know that going into the game.

    JD,

    I don't disagree. But telling a bunch of people to "play with kindness" will not magically achieve Paranoia-style play. There's other stuff to be discussed for that.
    I don't know that it needs to be spelled out. I will typically explain this to players in my games, but when I am a player, and new to a group or GM, I generally respect whatever approach they take and don't get worked up if they do things differently. Something about framing this as a 'players rights' issue, just doesn't seem like a solid place to start from. If it is an issue of setting expectations, then it is a setting up expectations list. Otherwise,again it feels like a way of creating an 'ought' in discussion around play styles (i.e. the GM is morally bad for killing my character suddenly with no warning).
  • (i.e. the GM is morally bad for killing my character suddenly with no warning).
    Well, I certainly don't like that, either. Frame that as a moral right and not only are you clueless, but you've just discredited a huge proportion of really fun gaming (as well as a good deal of its history). So we're very much on the same page here.

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