Greetings Layonara Community,
As we have done now and then through the years, we are bringing some changes to Layonara. Some of these are significant. Others are simple clarifications of what already exists. Regardless of the case, from this point forward, a new set of policies and conventions will be in place for all, from the new player on up to the GM team. These changes have come after a good deal of consideration, proposal, discussion and refinement over the course of several months. They take into account those things that we, as a community, do well and those things that we, as a community, could do better. The full details of all these things are too much to list here, but they will either be covered with some detail elsewhere or be evident in the way things are done by the GM team. Don't worry; the changes are all aimed at a more positive experience for everyone.
What I will do here is summarize these changes and then offer an agreement between the community-at-large and the GM team. The latter is offered because in order for this all to work, it requires cooperation between everyone, whether one is “just a player” or our most experienced GM. Afterall, we're all working toward the same goal: a rich and enjoyable experience for everyone.
Summary of Changes:
As mentioned above, the details of all the changes are too numerous to list here, and much of them get into administrative details. To list the major changes in summary:
- We are creating a world lore publication fork. This is different from diverging NWN lore from MMO lore, but it will still allow for some greater freedoms for GMs and players while protecting those players who eventually wish to achieve World Leader status or undertake a similar effort. There will still be opportunities to “change the world”, leave one's mark and the the like. World lore is still important, but there will also be flexibility. This fork is considered to begin with the conclusion of the last lingering matters after the world plot finale quests held in May, 2011. As things stand, this will coincide with the wrap-up of Briardusk.
- This publication fork also opens up possibilities for GMs to run events which may not fit into world lore. Such events will be considered “unofficial” and unsuitable for character development. They are intended for player entertainment and education...and perhaps GM entertainment as well. GMs will clearly state when such an event occurs, so there is no confusion on the part of players.
- CDQs (and GCDQs) are getting a significant change in terms of things like waiting periods and other policies, with individual GMs being allowed to set their own policies for the most part. They will also be the domain of lore-friendliness, meaning a CDQ need not directly deal with world lore, but neither should it violate it or conflict with it. Everyone should read the updated CDQ policy, found here.
- The world plot will be handled in a different, more “organic” way. With the wrap-up of Briardusk, we're taking a small break to get organized. We will put out a “state of the world” description so everyone knows the setting for moving forward. From that point forward, we will be operating on a new methodology. There will be opportunities for world-level involvement on many levels, even when something isn't marked as a “plot” event. To a large degree, what happens moving forward will be up to the community. More details will come out over time.
- The Character Approval process is undergoing a shift, and we will be clarifying some things as well. It is important for everyone to read and understand this new policy, as it will affect all character submissions from this point forward. Everyone should read the updated CA policy, found here.
In order for everything to work well, we all need a reminder that there is a need for cooperation between both players and GMs. Without it, there is nothing but difficulty, and anyone who has been around here long enough has probably witnessed the occasional period of problems and tension. We recognize these will never be truly eradicated, but we can all take steps to minimize them and work more constructively when problems do arise. In that spirit, I offer the following agreement to be held between players and GMs.
Players agree to...
- ...have fun, but never at someone else's expense.
- ...engage in RP as much as possible. Encourage the same in those around you.
- ...keep in mind that GMs are your partners in RP here, not your enemies.
- ...not spread rumors about favoritism or unfair treatment. If there's a concern, bring it to Leanthar, EdTheKet, Dorganath, Rowana or a Lead GM.
- ...try not to use words like “bother” or “inconvenience” (or some form thereof) when approaching members of our various teams. We choose to do this. It's OK. It's not a bother or an inconvenience.
- ...never be the reason for another player leaving the world or abandoning a character. This has happened, generally through behavior that has made a person feel uncomfortable or threatened. We know it has happened. It is unacceptable.
- ...avoid telling other players how to play their characters, alignments, classes deity/dogma, race or some other significant defining characteristic, which also includes concepts like the Heartsong or the Al'Noth. If there is a concern, bring it to a GM. Otherwise, unless a player specifically asks for advice, let it be.
- ...work toward a better level of communication between everyone here, whether it is with one of our various teams or with general members of the community.
- ...remember that GMs and especially the lead staff have a lot invested in Layonara. We sometimes want to participate in discussions. Our words, unless specifically stated, are not generally the end of the conversation.
- ...understand that at times, the GM team must say “no” but this should be respected rather than gossiped about, back-talked or flamed. “No” is rarely given without a reason, though if it is (such as cases where we cannot immediately give one), it is not an arbitrary decision.
- ...join the GM team in our respect for and observance of world lore. As part of this, keep in mind that if we approach players with matters or concerns about lore, we are only seeking to encourage and maintain a consistent environment for everyone here.
- ...remember that GMs are players too. Sometimes we just want to enjoy ourselves just like everyone else.
- ...maintain respect for everyone here, from the newest player on up to Leanthar. This applies equally whether in-game, on IRC or on the forums. We're all people. We're all gamers. We're here for the same reason. Do not hide behind anonymity.
- ...provide a fair, open and enjoyable experience for everyone.
- ...provide a rich and interesting environment to support, encourage, inspire and reward RP for everyone.
- ...attempt to communicate clearly and accurately with the community on various matters.
- ...be open and available, as our time permits, for questions, concerns and ideas. We may not be able to accommodate all requests, but we will make reasonable efforts where it is appropriate to do so.
- ...be as fair as possible. We are still people. We will make mistakes, but the goal remains.
- ...try to communicate as clearly as possible at all times.
- ...respect, support and enforce world lore as appropriate. In doing so, we may bring forward concerns or problems to players that are intended in the spirit of our established world lore. Please give these due consideration and respect our comments and the reason behind them.
- ...provide a “clean slate” for all players moving forward from this point (more on this below).
In understanding our various differences, let us also remember that each of us is only human. The above agreement is a goal, and regardless of which side we're on, no one expects perfection. We do, however, request that everyone keeps these things in mind when playing here. Most of us here are adults. Let's remember to act like adults. Speak to other players. Work out differences person-to-person, and ask for help if there are problems doing so.
The “Clean Slate”
Under the GM section of the agreement, the concept of a “clean slate” was mentioned. By way of explaining this, it is necessary to mention the oft-misunderstood “Player Watch List”. Many players may not know if this list, while others may have the wrong idea of it.
The Player Watch list is simply that...a list of players to watch. A player may get onto the list in several ways, which can be summarized as bad or questionable behavior. Such behavior can take many forms, whether it is a complaint by another player, minor rule violations or any matter that seems of concern. We use this as a communication tool between the entire GM team, such that we may all know of issues that may require a closer eye on a player in order that they do not cause problems for others through such behavior as we may document. A player will remain on the watch list for a period of six (6) months, after which time, the thread will be moved to an “inactive” archive, assuming no further issues during that time. If necessary, an archived thread may be made active again if there are repeated issues for a given player. These threads help us determine when administrative action or more direct intervention may be necessary, and they serve as long term documentation.
It bears stating, unequivocally, that the Player Watch List is not a list of people that the GM team “does not like.” This is actually quite far from the truth. It should also be said that just because someone is on the watch list does not mean the player is in trouble. In order to illustrate a little better what the list is and isn't, here are a few examples of why someone might appear on the list:
- Player A is seen repeatedly luring or using terrain features to trick creature AI or is otherwise abusing creature AI to disproportionately lower the challenge posed by a creature or set of creatures.
- Player B is observed camping CNR or creatures in excess of what rules allow.
- Player C is reported by Player D for some inter-personal matters that make Player D uncomfortable or which impact Player D's enjoyment of the game. In this case, both players might receive posts for tracking purposes.
- A GM comes across something that brings questions to mind about Player E. The player in question is not available at the time to speak to about the find, and there are no other GMs around who might be able to offer clarity. The GM posts a thread seeking attention and comment from other GMs regarding the find. (Note: in such a case, the post may be removed if it is determined that there is ultimately nothing wrong or questionable.)
To enact the “clean slate”, from this point forward, any and all active Player Watch List threads are now archived permanently. Any past incidents or disciplinary actions, except for permanent bannings of course, are hereby forgiven and completely in the past. If a player who has been the subject of one or more Player Watch List posts in the past has a new incident worthy of the Player Watch List, such incidents will be considered new, and past incidents will not be taken into account. Repeated incidents after this point will, of course, be handled as we have in the past, with each thread serving as a historical record for future reference.
This gives everyone who may have come in conflict with server rules in the past or who may have caused difficulties for other players to start fresh and without bias. It is our hope that in this environment, people will seize this opportunity to be better members of the community as a whole and remember that this is not just a single-player game and that our actions affect other players, either directly or indirectly.
So let's get started!
Without further ceremony or description, let's all start moving forward and continue making Layonara the best environment for RP and enjoyment it can be. For good or ill, we've all contributed to what Layonara is today. As we go on, we will continue to shape it. Let's make it good!