Have you read this page and you're ready to plan an adventure? In order to not pile up, we have a simple schedule here: Adventure Calendar.
Adventuring at the Madonna Inn is unlike adventuring in other games you may have been in. Over time, characters will learn some of the reasons the Inn functions the way it does--yay, overarching plot development, but until then it falls to the mods to arbitrate what is and isn't possible at the Inn.
One of our main guidelines is that the Inn itself does as little a possible, and where it can, it uses things it already has--including the wilderness for four hours in any direction. But another guiding principle is that the Inn does its best to provide for the residents. Thus, if a resident has asthma, the Inn's gift shop will include inhalers to protect that resident.
The Inn (and your moderators) are aware that many of its people are suffering from a lack of things to test themselves against. As such, the Inn will begin providing two types of opportunities for conflict and combat immediately. (5/1/2018) These opportunities will be player-led. What this means is that provided they follow the guidelines here, you will not need to discuss them with the moderators in order to use them.
As you are all aware, there are four hours' worth of terrain available to explore. Depending on how fast or slow you move, that four hours might encompass a fairly large swath of territory and micro-climates. There is, certainly, the ocean and beach, the local scrub desert, and really anything you can find within a couple hours of San Luis Obispo. What there is not is any other sentient population, so no humans or humanoids, no traffic, no cities, no junkyards, etc. The landscape is empty of signs of human occupation except the Inn and its immediate environs.
However the wilderness does include fauna typical of the climates. These are the fish and rabbits and such that your people have been hunting to supplement food supplies and provide something for them to do. The wilderness also provides opportunities for using brain and body to deal with odd problems that crop up from time to time. We'll call these "wilderness encounters."
A wilderness encounter is conflict or combat between some residents of the Inn and some non-sentient non-humanoid force spawned by the environment. It will be of a size and at a distance from the Inn so not to threaten the Inn or its residents and not require more than a small group of characters to defeat it.
Again, as long as your encounters follow the guidelines, you do not need to discuss with the mods. The idea here is less to give your character a chance to be The Hero and more a chance to give characters the opportunity to develop teamwork skills on the fly and have some fun challenges.
1. No sentients or humanoids. This covers everything from undead to tribes of lizardfolk. Edge cases include pods of whales or bands of baboons. If you really want to have to fight or deal with a pod of whales, we're not interested in stopping you, but please consider that the more intelligent the creatures you're fighting/dealing with, the more likely it is that someone in the Inn is going to have an issue with you killing them. The idea here is to provide opponents that no one (or almost no one cares about).
2. No boss fights. If it's threatening the Inn or requires strategy or large groups (more than 6-8) of characters to defeat it, that's not a wilderness encounter, it's a boss fight. Wilderness encounters are trash mobs (again, no zombies or sentients) like a few giant scorpions or area effects like wildfire or ice storms or a pocket of pollution. General guideline: if it has a name, it's a boss. This includes dragons, sea monsters, eldritch horrors. If you want a boss fight, that's going to require coordination with the mods.
3. No crack plots. No fields of poppies or sex-swapping plants. No de-aging or truth serums. Then again, if you want to have something like a truth serum crack plot, the mods are down with it. Just pitch it to us with some kind of status-effect explanation and we'll schedule it and open it up to all players. We're not trying to crush your fun here. Instead, we're trying to make sure everyone can have the big fun without having to repeat it all the time.
4. Playing wilderness encounters:
- Low-impact player-led encounters - groups of 8 or less. (More than 8 is getting to 1/5 the cast, and that's not low-impact)
- Spontaneous events - these are something that happen to characters, not something they seek out or plan. You plan. They encounter.
- Player-generated, player-led, player-handled - whoever initiates it decides who is involved and who is not; if you're not included and you want to play, make your own. The mods are a resource if you need us, but we don't want to be arbitrators here.
- Plan ahead - please plan these incidents ahead and let the group know when something is going to be happening. We have a calendar to avoid overlaps and overdoing.
- Be courteous - since these are occasional, small group events, please limit your characters to one incident per month. Individual players should also consider not eating up all of the play opportunities. If you have an idea for a character to have multiple encounters in a short period for some reason (character growth), the mods aren't going to say no. Just trot it by us if it's going to crowd the schedule for a bit.
- How to:
- Plan ahead and discuss with involved characters.
- If there will be injuries or other fallout, or your characters will be away from their room for more than 2 days, discuss with characters who will notice and with doctors or healers as needed.
- Decide when it will happen and how it will be played and let the list know. A simple "X characters will be fighting a swarm of bats on 5/18 somewhere west of the Inn. It'll be played in a locked gathering post" is fine. Put it on the Adventure Calendar.
- About that. You can use private journals, email logs, locked threads, locked GPs, as you will. Please don't create an open GP with monsters to fight (leave that to the mods). If you really want to EP your character fighting a trash mob, that's okay but please consider locking the number of responses below 8.
Occasional, spontaneous, low gamewide-impact, courteous and player-led are your watchwords here.
Because rooms can be transformed by the Inn to create portals to Otherworlds, they can also transform abortively from time to time. What this means is that at some point in the mysterious transformation process a room can 'get stuck' and trap some characters inside. Like wilderness encounters, these are intended to be occasional, spontaneous, player-led, low gamewide-impact events.
However, unlike wilderness encounters, room events are BUGS not features. In other words, while it's entirely plausible a character might experience dozens of wilderness encounters in their life at the Inn, unless they're just really unlucky, three would be a lot of room malfunctions for a character to get caught in. As such, we encourage you to think about these more carefully. They are not intended to take the place of bigger plots with more impact on either the character(s) or the Inn, but offer opportunities to tailor encounters a little more specifically. We will call these events room incidents.
A room incident is a conflict, combat, encounter or experience involving some residents of the Inn and an environment and/or NPCS created by a malfunction in the Inn's regular Otherworld connection-spawning process. The resulting space will be no larger than a decent-sized warehouse, and while there may be NPCs in the space they will be more like the Innkeeper than NPCs in an actual Otherworld..
As long as you follow the guidelines below, there is no need to involve the mods. However, there are some things that the Inn just can't do. If you hit one of those, the mods will work with you to plot how that thing can happen.
In general, please remember that Otherworlds are ACTUAL, OTHER WORLDS that the Inn is connecting to. They are not magical spaces within the Inn that are created for adventures. Thus, an Otherworld may have creatures, money, magic, etc. that can be brought into the Inn and persist there, but a malfunctioning room does not create anything real or tangible that may be brought out of the incident into the room. At most, you may be able to retain some kind of small souvenir or trinket (not Trinket). This also means that the malfunctioning rooms do not have fully functioning technologies or magical systems that are not available in the Inn.
A room incident takes place in a malfunctioning room. It is wholly and completely within the Inn. It is not an Otherworld and therefore has only the sorts of things that the Inn itself spawns in bridging the space between the Inn and an Otherworld. This may include trash mobs and semi-sentient NPCS, but everything in the room disappears when the incident is over.
These elements of the room incidents are not arbitrary mod decisions, but rather grounded in the powers and abilities of the Inn as the mods-as-worldbuilders have constructed it. There are ways to do almost anything you might want to do at the Inn, but some of them will require mod-involved plotting. As long as you follow these guidelines, you won't need the mods.
1. No public spaces. The Inn makes bridges to Otherworlds via private rooms. As such, any player-led room incident must take place in a private room. Because the Inn tends to work with what it has, it usually tries to match the theme of the room to the world at some level. Use this to guide you, but don't worry about it too much; a color is connection enough.
2. PC-controlled or unoccupied rooms only. Either use a room belonging to one of the characters involved or an empty room. (See Room Assignments for unoccupied rooms.) If you want to use a room belonging to an uninvolved character (whether the character belongs to one of the involved players or not), please first get the consent of the player whose character the room belongs to and then speak to the mods. The mods will assign the unhoused character a temporary new room for the duration of the event.
3. No homeworlds or crack-plots. Since Otherworlds never involve trips to the homeworlds of the characters, neither can a room incident. As with the wilderness encounters, if you want to do something that falls under the general heading of crack-plots (age change, truth serum, musicals, etc.), instead of doing it as a room incident, suggest it to the mods and we'll schedule it for general gameplay. If it turns out no one else wants to do it, we'll let you do it as a room incident.
4. No lovely vacations. These are malfunctions. They're not going to provide you with a lovely special place for a vacation or important event. These should provide some sort of challenge. In part, this is because they're completely random and it wouldn't make sense for it to spawn a special happy place. In part, it's because these events are severely limited and the kind of conflict generated here can't be gained otherwise. If you want a lovely vacation for a special event, there are a number of characters with the ability to temporarily change the environment. Talk to the players of those characters instead.
5. Halluci-Nations. Because the rooms can malfunction at any stage of the transformation process, on very rare occasion, the room that 'eats' your characters may be mostly unformed still. In this instance, the magic, gases, or technology that causes the transformation may cause your character to have character-specific hallucinations. The characters will likely know those events aren't real, but the effects of them can be. These hallucinations are intended more as "character got trapped in their own thoughts" (vision quests, dreaming, etc.) than as an opportunity to interact with their home canon. Edge cases include things like meeting a canon-world mentor who gives you advice; when in doubt, if it involves your canon, ask your mods.
6. No Inn revelations. The Inn is controlled by the mods. Characters may speculate about what is happening when a room 'eats' characters, but they can't learn anything about how the Inn actually functions. Players understand that room incidents are aborted Otherworlds, but characters can only guess at that. They also will not see any of the guts of the Inn or the mechanisms that make the Otherworlds possible or how deliveries and inventory are controlled.
7. What happens? When characters get caught up in a room incident, they are trapped inside the room for the duration. They can't leave the room until the event is over. From the outside, it looks like characters got locked into a room, or if you want it for the drama (discuss with other players first), the room can disappear and it looks like the Inn ate the characters. These events generally last 24-48 hours, but can last longer. If it's going to be more than 3 days, check in with the group to make sure that players can work out negative effects on their characters.
8. Playing Room Incidents:
- Low gamewide-impact player-led encounters - 1-5 characters. It's a small space and a small incident. If you really want 6 or 7, the mods don't care, but if you go over 7, that's a significant impact.
- Random, rare, spontaneous events - at most, these incidents happen twice a month. Individual characters should VERY RARELY be involved in multiple room incidents in the space of 6 months.
- Plan carefully and courteously - since we're talking about two incidents per month, we expect players to talk to each other about when they're doing this and schedule so that everyone has the opportunities they want.
- Play to completion - since this is a very limited experience, please don't handwave or ftb involvement in these events (obviously, we're not saying you can't ftb individual threads or that you have to play if you're sick or on hiatus; just try not to 'use up' these events if you're not actually going to play it).
- Avoid backdating, and consider pre-playing - because these incidents should have some impact on your characters, try to avoid scheduling and then backdating. Instead, consider playing the room incident to completion and then scheduling/posting it when it's done. This will allow your characters and other peoples' characters to react to the incidents in real time and keep the schedule free.
- Stay within the guidelines. If something happens that isn't in the guidelines, check with the mods. In most cases, we'll find a way to make it work.
- Email logs, private journals, locked threads or locked GPs. Room incidents are random and spontaneous for the characters but not for the players.
- Room Incidents should never be the basis of an EP or a GP. If you want to do a room incident and don't have a planned group of characters or you think it would be fun to do it with a random group, arrange the random group on the mailing list or in Slack.
- Courtesy. Please notify players of affected characters so that they can react to what they perceive as disappearance or threat.
- Conflict? No player may veto another player/player character's proposed plan of play, insist players conform the play to their expectations, or require players to help resolve their character's issues. They may ask for your assistance in resolving negative effects, but ultimately, that's on them, not you. We hope you will be able to resolve these issues for yourselves, but please don't hesitate to ask the mods for help. That's what we're here for.
Have fun, plan neat and exciting things, and play them. Can't figure out if the rules allow it? Ask. If they don't, that's what Plots are for.
What's a plot? A plot is a planned event that requires the Inn or the characters to do things that aren't covered by normal play or Adventuring mechanics. It's a story-bit that has a beginning, middle and end, and may involve NPCs, conflict, or combat. So, how is that different from Adventuring generally?
A plot is how characters solve a defined character or world problem.
Think of it this way. If you know the character has a problem -- ie, Sam worries about the women in his life dying -- chances are good that's something you can work on or develop with Adventuring mechanics or Otherworld incidents. If the character knows they have a problem -- ie, Illyana is trapped in shackles -- that's probably going to involve a plot.
What do you do when you have a plot?
In most cases, you just play it. As long as it involves characters doing things the characters are capable of doing, using resources that they have access to from the Inn, the environment or Otherworlds, that's all you, boo. As an example, the mods knew that Illyana had shackles when she arrived. We also knew they'd need to be removed eventually. Who did that, how, and when was all up to the players.
Another example, Vex and Percy got married on Asphodel Station and didn't tell anyone about it. When Vax found out, he was pissed. His solution was ambush them with a reception. That, too, was all on the players.
Essentially, character arcs and plots that arise out of play are the kinds of things you can also resolve in play. Sometimes these things get really messy and characters and players disagree. Characters can disagree all they want. When players disagree and can't resolve that without drama, that's when you might want to get the mods involved.
What if I want to do something that's not in the rules?
Ummmmmmm... some games have mechanics for character resets or canon updates or hiatusing a character from the gameworld or I want dragons to attack the Inn or I want my female character to be a male for awhile...
Ah. Well. That's a plot and the kind where the mods might need to get involved. But let's break it down.
1. Game mechanics we don't have.
Your last game had a locker your character could get sucked into that would wipe all their game memories and allow you to reset them. You think that's cool and you want to reset your character's memories.
The first thing you ought to do is say, "hey mods, I'd like to do this thing. Is there some way the Inn could make that happen?" Chances are that we'll come up with something that works for all characters, like "sure, yeah, if you wander into a room trying to become an Otherworld at a specific period in its metamorphosis, the gases wipe out all your memories of the Inn. We'll go put that in the wiki."
But maybe we'll be like "we don't want that as a game mechanic." Then what? Well, then you say, "I really want to wipe my character's memories out, temporarily or permanently, and here's why." And then we say, "Okay. We're not down with setting that as a precedent as a game mechanic at this time, but we'll allow your character to wander into a malfunctioning room this time. The Inn won't restore their memories, though, so make sure you have a plan with other players to get the memories back if that's important to you."
If it works out well, and someone else wants to do it later, maybe we'll turn it into a game mechanic then.
2. I want dragons to attack the Inn.
Well, some people might not be down with killing dragons and might want to talk to them instead. Plus the Inn will reset itself. And also some people are going to be really stressed out about that.
Does that mean I can't do it?
It means you can't do it, but it doesn't mean we can't do it. That's the sort of high gamewide-impact event that the mods will want to propose to the group, discuss issues, iron out as many as we can or suggest IC ways for dealing with that, and then schedule it as something that anybody can get involved in.
What if I want my character to be a big damned hero and kill the dragon all by themself or with just a few buddies? Well, that's when we say, "let's talk about an Otherworld where that can happen." That might be an Otherworld that you set up and run. Everyone can play in it like normal, but the mods don't have to do the big work.
Basically, if it's going to affect more than 1/5 of the characters, that's something we're going to have to plan. The Otherworlds essentially make everything possible. We just need to talk about it first.
3. I want my male character to be a female character for awhile.
So, this is an interesting edge case.
Do you want this mostly because it would be fun? Other people probably feel the same way. Toss it out to the group in an email (since not everyone's on Slack). If people are generally "thumbs-up" about it, we'll just schedule a gamewide plot for it, and make up a mechanism that's consistent with the Inn's abilities.
Do you have this cool idea that your group of five characters might learn something really important from having their sex switched (with or without their genitalia) for awhile? Well, people might still want to crack-plot play this and you could maybe do it during a crack-plot. But if you think the lesson's going to get buried if it's happening to everyone, then talk to the mods. Maybe we'll allow using a room incident for it or some fancy-schmancy artifact on an Otherworld or maybe you'll have an idea that doesn't involve the Inn's capabilities and we'll be like "sure, go for it."
Do you want just your character to have this experience? Well, then, you probably have an idea for how it's going to happen already. Since it's something that treads on everyone-might-want-to-do-it territory, run it by the mods. "Hey mods, Alec's super-attached to his dick and he's being a dick about it. I want him to have to experience the world without it for awhile. Can Lillith polymorph him into a lady for awhile?" We'll probably tell you to come up with some magical accident explanation for why he doesn't change back when the spell would canonically ends, and run with it.
4. This thing happens to my character in canon and I want to do it in the game.
So, here's the deal. The Inn allows for individual characters to use their abilities, magic, technology the same way they would in canon with appropriate limitations that keep them from busting the gameworld. In most cases, that's basically "in canon, a character can teleport to anywhere they've been before and in the Inn the character can teleport to anywhere within the gameworld or open Otherworld that they've been before." Sensible limitations based on what we all know about the world.
Okay, but what about "my character falls in a hole and has an Alice in Wonderland experience"? Welp, welcome to room incidents, or weird Otherworld happenings. "I want it to happen in the wilderness, though." Uh, okay, ask the mods. If it's really important, we'll work something out with you. It might seem weird and intense whatever we come up with to explain it, especially if your character never knows about it, but we're just working to keep certain aspects of the Inn consistent.
All right, but what about this fancy-thing that happens to all Fae or vampires or werewolves at a certain point in their lives and their world makes it happen and has a bunch of consequences? Here's where things get a little bit stickier. The Inn lets individual creatures use their abilities the way they work at home, but that doesn't mean the Inn itself or the environment works like home. So, if there's some special rite of passage that your world makes happen for your characters, the Inn can't do that. And since we've said Otherworlds aren't homeworlds, Otherworlds can't do that.
But the character needs to do it and the Inn tries to help the character. So that means that characters in the Inn working together should be able to do the thing, either identically to the way it happens in homeworld or, more interestingly, not identically but with the same effects.
Hey, that kind of sounds like a plot thing that arises out of play and character development and doesn't need mod involvement! Yep. You're right. As long as the characters are making a thing happen and the Inn isn't doing anything, the mods don't need to approve it. It's just regular play. Okay, okay, it's kind of a big deal though. Well if it's a big enough deal that you think maybe the mods should know about it, tell us the basic gist of it. As long as it's something the characters can actually do, go thou and do.
Bottom line on plots
If you need the Inn or the world to do something, you need to talk to the mods and get help with it. If it's just characters doing character things, you don't.
If it's a thing a lot of people might want to be able to do, talk to the mods first. If you want your character to have a pickle for a nose for a week? Go for it.
It's never a bad idea to send something to the mods, though. We're professionals at deciding what's consistent with the gameworld and what might cause conflicts with groups of players. So fling your idea at the mods and if there's a problem, we'll help you work it out.