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Social Contract

Posted: 08 Jun 2016, 14:36
by Fieranor of Imladris
The 72-Hour Response Time Leeway
In Play-by-Mail, Play-by-Post, and Play-by-Forum games, it is customary to give all players a 72-hour window to respond, from the last GM message for the game, because each player has a real-life, they have family, school, friends, work, and other things to do, and it's supposed to allow players sufficient time to respond when all of those real-life things collude to get into the way of a good game.

There are two main parts to any role-playing game, especially in Play-by-Forum games, being the role-playing and combat portions. The role-playing portion, more often than not, can take place without every character interacting with the story every single posting 'round'; however, unless a player removes their character from the fighting, combat requires everyone. This post attempts to take into account both real-life elements and role-play requirements for the game in order to address posting issues. This is part of our social contract, as gamers imagining together to solve a story and bring it to fruition through all of its contiguous parts; thus, everyone playing in games I run agrees to work within this code, even if everything is not to your liking. Please keep in mind these rules and guidelines come from two decades of Play-by-Forum and three decades of regular gaming experience, and are necessary to allow the game to run as smoothly as possible.

We'll start with the rules concerning role-playing...
It's not as important for every player to participate when the situation requires writing a portion of the story, whether for the player's own character or to expand on the environment in which the story is being played. The rule for this is that EVERY player needs to make a posting every 72 real hours, regardless of who has posted anything. Otherwise, Player-characters are considered to be trundling along with the rest of the party; however, as a player you must check the forums often, preferably daily, but at least every third day, regardless of the postings of others.

To clarify, if you make a posting on Monday at 5pm, your next posting should be at or before 5pm on Thursday, and the next one at 5pm or before on Sunday, and so on. The kind of posting need be only a simple explanation the character is doing nothing, or the player doesn't know what to do, or is going to be away on vacation or some other excursion.

Keeping those simple ideals in mind will help keep the game running smoothly. Not everyone may share them, some folks may be complacent or slow in posting, but I implore you to allow my not inconsiderable experience as a GM on both tabletop and in forums to guide your decision to adhere to them, anyway. Otherwise, I'm not putting up with gold brickers anymore and, eventually, a player can be removed for said complacency.

Next and, perhaps, most important is combat...
The 72-hour limit is not allowed for the sake of abusing time for any purpose that could be accounted for under the sun. That being said, most players do a fine job of responding in a timely manner, so this is not for players who check the forums and write on the story regularly; rather, it is for those who spend a LOT of time on the internet and just don't post for whatever reason while they're on, until they're pushing that 72-hour barrier.

That is unacceptable, it is unfair to your fellow players, it is unfair to me when I'm trying to keep a fair tempo for ALL of the players, and will only be tolerated for so long before you will be removed from the game. It is not a crutch, it is not a barrier or benchmark one should be aiming for, but is again designed to give you enough time to respond in a timely fashion, to give you time to think if you need it, and then answer as soon as you can.

I cannot, and will not continue to try, to keep up a tempo for the game, unless I have the help of all the players. I have fought so very hard to keep games like this running, and I'm just not going to do it, anymore, I'll just remove the repeat offending player. Each player gets three consecutive strikes, 9 days of forcing other players to wait on them, before they will be removed from the game. The likelihood is that, if you don't have time to post in a considerate fashion, quickly enough to keep your fellow players from being required to wait too long, then you don't have time to play the game, right now; try to return to the game, later. If you have more time on your hands, and you left the game in a decent manner, you'll be allowed back in.

We're all here to tell a story, to enjoy one-another's company in the telling, but the way the Human brain works, it does not maintain a steady flow of information for this game, because it's not as important as real-life, and so when it's time to play their character, again, they've forgotten what they were going to do. Not fair, not right, so don't abuse it? Three consecutive strikes...

Thank you.