A multi-media fantasy RPG of Fantastic World-building
By Mike Holmes
With help from Shreyas Sampat, Kirk, JB Bell, Charlotte Irrgang, Nate Banks, and Andrew Cooper
Fair Play is a work in progress, currently. Generally the design is meant to create role-playing in a fantasy world that grows from nothing at the start but our commonly held memetic notions of what fantasy worlds are like. As play proceeds, various extant bits of media (likely mostly pictures) are added to text play to create information about the world. This new information, then, creates routs for further investigation, and growth of the world.
Below are the goals that have been identified, reflecting Mike Holmes' vision for the game, and constraints on what the design will attempt and how. These may change over time.
Play generally starts with a concept creation phase, player role selection, character generation, and then general play.
In this phase, the players jointly concoct the elements of setting and character activity that will be the center of the plots that evolve in play. The concepts should probably involve the characters being peripatetic or some other explanation of a way in which the characters come across enough elements of the world to keep play involving discovery of new things.
Each participant goes to any of the “Fantasy Setting” boards that the facilitator provides, and selects a place picture. The players should select this primary place picture with the understanding that the main characters of the game will be developed from ideas that come about from this selection. They may live there, be traveling there, are there to get something, etc, etc. Play may not end up staying at the location of the initial setting, or even starting there, but it provides a locale that ties the characters together in some way.
Once everyone has selected a picture, and showed it to everyone, everyone votes on one they like that is not theirs. The one with the most votes wins. If two or more have the same number of votes, eliminate the rest and have a run-off for the remainder; in this case, the participant who selected the art can vote for their own piece. The facilitator calls the vote, and decides the order of the vote, voting last themselves in each case.
Continue doing run-offs as necessary. If it ever gets to a tie, determine randomly which picture to be the central place.
Each player then asks one other player a question, again in facilitator selected (or random?) order. Once a player has been asked a question, they are no longer eligible to be asked a question by another participant. In this way every participant asks one question, and answers one; the last participant to ask a question will have no choice as to who to ask. The second-to last question asker must ask the player who will be last, to prevent the last player asking from being the only one to ask.
The question must have to do with the picture selected and must be open-ended. For instance one can ask “Who lives here?” but not “Does the captain live here, or the magician?”
From the information generated, the participants should figure out a concept for play to revolve around that will involve characters who are interested in each other in some way, and interested in investigating the world in some fashion.
Before creating characters, players select roles for the game. This is done first, as selection of roles my influence how players generate characters. The roles that may be selected are:
The default is that all players are either main or non-main character players (or both), and world-builders. A player may “GM” by opting not to play a main character, and other players may do the same, essentially. Though they may well want and have secondary characters that are of significant importance.
Play may begin once every role has been filled.
At certain times in the game, a player may drop or add a role. They may not drop a role, however, if they are the last player who has that role. They must instead wait until somebody else takes up that role before they may drop it. Note that a player may petition the game to have one of their secondary characters become a main character, which then makes them a main character player. And characters may be similarly demoted, with the player no longer being a main character player if this is their last such character. But this may not happen, again, if there are no other main character players.
All players start play with a pool of 10 Karma Points. See below for their uses.
Players invent characters that make sense given the initial setting and ideas that revolve around that which were worked out in the campaign creation phase above. These should include one main character or one secondary character for each player in the game, and one additional secondary character for each main character, somebody important to the main character. Normally the player most involved in creating a character will play that character, but players may decide to swap, up to and including changing a player role if necessary to accomplish this (one player may become a primary character player, and the other a secondary character player).
Generally the player of one of these designated characters has the usual prerogatives of a player of a Player Character in most RPGs, including creating their background and enumerating them.
Players of main characters should indicate if the character is a protagonist or some other type of character. There must remain one protagonist among the characters for play to begin, and players can negotiate which characters these will be, including bribing each other with available Karma Points, if they wish.
Players may not want to create a character concept out of nothing. If so, here are a couple of ways by which a player might come up with an idea.
One method is to play it out using the Narrative Character Generation Method.
Another method is to select a character archetype from the list here.
Once a character has a concept, we know if they are a protagonist or not, the player of the character gets 100 Essence Points with which to create the character.
Characters all have several Aspects that comprise who they are. Aspects regard things like the character's Form, Culture, Education, Careers, or other things that define the character, such that we then understand from where they have obtained whatever abilities they have (see Abilities below).
Abilities are rated on a scale and purchased with Essence Points.
Play is conducted using the usual scene-setting procedures and so forth.
Who frames scenes, and how?
Players take turns (ala Universalis), during which they can make stuff up voluntarily, or compel other players to do so (see below).
Players may pay a Karma to interrupt.
Ongoing with this normal play, players are compelling each other to add elements to the setting, and/or doing so voluntarily. In many cases, the additions will be accomplished by placing a piece of art into play inline with the text (or showing it to other players for FTF play). When this happens, everything in the picture presented is created in the shared imagined space, unless a player goes further and “edits” the picture. Pictures are selected from specific galleries.
Other types of media can be entered voluntarily, but only compelled if somebody creates a “gallery” of that sort of art. A playlist for music, for example.
If a participant in the game finds that an entered piece of media changes details from previously established egregiously (especially if established by previous media entries), they can protest to the facilitator who will make a call on whether the submission is suitable, or if the player must edit it or select another.
Another way to modify something entered into play is for a character who is an expert in the field of the addition in question to edit the entry. Multiple players may do this, but characters with higher levels of ability trump those with lower, in terms of which is correct. If it's not clear if an ability applies to an entry, the facilitator makes the final judgement on if the character may trump.
Once a piece of art is exhibited, players may interrogate one another about the piece. This can be accomplished by having a character investigate, or at the player level, in which case the information may simply be player knowledge. In the latter case, a player can use a knowledge test to figure out if the character knows the information already, making investigating unnecessary.
Each player starts a session with a bounty of 3 Karma. A player may, once during their turn, compel another player to create something, and when doing so the compelling character takes karma in the amount of the current bounty. The next player to compel that player takes one less, and so on each time. When the bounty is zero, the player may still be compelled, but there is no reward for doing so.
If a player wants to create something, instead of another player, they may offer Karma from their own pool to add to the bounty, and the player doing the compelling may change their mind at this point.
For adding something to the game, the player making the entry gets one Essence Point.
There will be a wiki that stores added media and notes about them, which will be maintained by the facilitator. The facilitator may get help from other players, who will get a reward.