The following is a summary of some of the major changes the Setting Department has under gone in order to better serve the community of Vaxia.
You'll find detailed summaries under the spoiler tags.
Vaxia: Yeeks retconned to be a type of goblin instead of an individual species.
The yeeks were removed from play a couple of years ago, however there are some parts of the story of the world where a couple of them are still prevalent and have had an impact. With the update to species guidelines for play and their presence as NPCs, it has been decided that yeeks were not a separate species, but a type of goblin in order to offer more variety for a goblin type character.
The species of halflings offered nothing unique when compared to dwarves and Gnomes Thus halflings were merged into those other two species in order to also help expand the cultural and physical options of those species. The term halfling will now be considered to be referring to a dwarf or gnome, or someone of a small height in comparison.
Also due to the high number of species in the Vaxia setting, and the fact that halflings did not have a distinct culture of their own to build from. The halfling species has been removed, and instead anything that would fit the physical appearance of a halfling/hobbit is a variation of a gnome or dwarf.
This enables us to have more versatility of those other two species and more room for cultural variances as per our guidelines and the direction we are going with the game setting.
Any historical references to halflings will be changed to gnome or dwarf pending on the context.
No more dedicated 'personal' pages to Player Characters in the wiki.
Player characters can still be referenced in some articles, so long as the information is relevant to that article. Any detailed family layouts or history, and expanded information on a player character belongs on their sheet and not in the wiki.
Sessions are now automatically attached to a timeline: http://vaxia.org/wiki/timelines?field_realm_value=Vaxia#175
Which is wonderful as that means less time we have to spend updating every little thing and risk excluding someone by accident (that is A LOT of information to track folks, and some characters do fall through the cracks when doing it manually).
To me all of these changes make it less necessary to have player character information in the wiki.
I can understand wanting to be able to link to a page so people can know whom an article may be referring to - however I think that is best solved by just linking to the character page (Not entirely sure how troublesome that may be from the tech end but yeah.)
We also have to consider what happens when a player stops playing that character as discussed here:
I would like to recommend removing player character pages from the wiki and just having all that information on their sheets.
This would ensure the player has control over the information about their character (as some players didn't even know their character had a page in the wiki). This also means that someone else can't go in and change that information when the player is not around.
Should that player leave for whatever reason, this also ensures that another player may not 'kidnap' the character as it may possibly be mistaken it for a NPC.
The timelines automatically track anything that is put in as a session report - so that information is already up for all to see.
This help furthers the idea of a player must be around and somewhat active to keep their character presence known.
Also this would mean we wouldn't have to go through and put up pages for every single character. Every character affects the world in some way, it isn't fair just to have pages for a select few and not everyone. Even the smallest action may change the course of something bigger - this should be left to the auto-updating timeline.
Players can email themselves their characters, so they can have a copy of that information on hand (forgot about this one). http://vaxia.org/forums/new-features
Should a player turn their character into a NPC then that would be cause to put that information up in the wiki, as that is what we are trying to encourage with NPCs - to make them all open. So such NPC pages give us all the information we need to be able to pick up those NPCs and keep on playing. So when a character is turned into one - they must follow that format as well. This is just so we can keep things a moving.
I also think it is fine to make such pages for characters of a player that has passed away - we actually have had a case like this. Such situations come on suddenly, and well you just never know. (This is also why we encourage everyone to write things down at least some place someone else can see so that information can continue). In such a case, especially if there was like no 'will' left, the site can safely turn those characters to NPC status to help keep what projects the player's characters may have started or been involved going, meaning we would need that character information somewhere on hand to keep them 'alive' so to speak.
I think there are circumstances where it's warranted to have a PC on a wiki page, for example should the PC be elected to an important office or somesuch. But beyond those very limited circumstances, I would really prefer to keep PCs out of the wiki as much as possible, or at least quarantine them. For a new player, the wiki is THE way to make heads or tails of the world, and if it's spammed with a million 'personal' pages, it loses that functionality.
To clarify: This is about removing a dedicated wiki page to a player character - not removing PCs from being mentioned in the wiki completely (hence the suggestion about seeing how hard it would be to link character pages). So this is more about cleaning out 'personal' pages and letting that information be on the character sheets.
So if a PC starts up a group, they will still be mentioned, and any major information relevant to the organization will still go up. Etc. Just that they will not have a 'personal' page like our NPCs have for the reasons mentioned in the op. This would also apply if a PC got into a major position of some sorts, and other cases where such mentioning would be warranted. (just wanted to add that in, as my example was kind of limited)
Vaxia: Replacing the old magic school categories with more open and broad themes/flavors
By moving to a more theme or flavor idea of magic, players have more variety and freedom to build magic skills. Limitations are covered by the System itself and the three aspects rule.
The old philosophy of 'Seeing' no longer used or accepted for site decision making.
What it says on the tin. 'Seeing' is a personal philosophy, and not appropriate for making site decisions. The original announcement is here:
For older players, you may be very familiar with the concept of "Seeing". The newer, are not. So first, a quick overview: In "Seeing", the A/SH doesn't consider himself as much of a creator or a "god", deciding who lives and who dies and what happens next, but more of an "observer" impartially communicating the consequences of actions. And the players are generally considered to be doing the same, impartially communicating the actions of their characters.
It may have started out as a method to try and explain what the difference was between "In Character" and "Out Of Character" and possibly even as a means to introduce people to what role-playing is in general. In truth over time many people became confused on what exactly the philosophy was and there were several versions running around.
However over the years the concept has changed and has become a source of confusion and abuse. It was removed from the A/SH course since we moved to the Drupal site in 2013, but lacking a formal announcement many of our older players have brought the concept back into play or made it clear they were still operating under the "Seeing" concept.
In short the old philosophy of "Seeing" will no longer be used as far as Setting is concerned on Vaxia.org and will not be accepted as a valid argument in decisions made by the Setting department from this moment forward.
Some more details on why we've made this decision:
Over time, "Seeing" became a go-to excuse that allowed people to separate themselves from the consequences of their character's actions. It was used all too often in the form of 'I couldn't stop my character, I have no control over them, I just saw them do it.' This allowed players, or A/SHs to duck any responsibility for their own choices so that they could avoid blame, or blame others for the decision made.
It was also used to justify decisions made in the Setting that made no sense whatever in the context and allowed for the arbitrary approval (or disapproval) of setting elements so long as someone could make a convincing argument on how they 'saw' it. Worse, it was often the fallback to justify favoritism and biased decision making, even if the game system said otherwise.
It even leaked into the A/SH Course there were A/SHs that didn't have a very good grasp on the game system and would instead invoke the philosophy of "Seeing" as a way to perform their rulings. I.E. having someone succeed even though by the dice and numbers they failed or having someone fail a task even though they succeeded. While 'fudging' the dice happens in sessions, it should be an exception not the standard by which an A/SH operates.
It quickly became a tool used to remove agency from players and A/SHs who were not in the "in crowd", and to avoid responsibility on the part of those invoking "Seeing". It became a tool used by those in power to secure that power.
This is a problematic philosophy to have at the center of any game and setting development because the truth is we DO have control over our characters, our settings, and our decisions. And we DON'T have the right to take the agency of others away from them.
To simply say "I see it happening like this, so it must happen like this" tends to violate the settings we have and often the game system as well. This use of seeing has led to some content being added that was not very thought out, some that made no sense, or some that has been changed so much the original concept has been lost over time.
In matters of adding IC content, we simply cannot arbitrarily add content. It must fit within the flavor and intended genres of the setting as well as within the guidelines of the game system. It must make sense and we must have a way in place to ensure we have a protocol for people to be able to add in well thought out content. Ideally, submitted material that is rejected should be rejected with clear guidance on why it failed to be approved, and what could be done to make it more fitting for a later submission. This is why we are steadily working towards detailed Pitch requirements for content, so that our Setting department has a way to judge if a new element is ready and fits the setting.
While in play, we do keep to what is "In Character"- but there are limits! Especially in situations where not all the players may be comfortable in continuing. There are always consequences to deal with in regards to the character's action that may also have an OOC effect. How we deal with those consequences is how we manage our expectations and disappointments in regards to what happen "In Character".
In addition, we must respect other player's boundaries. Some forms of role-play some players will have no interest or comfort in participating in. To use the excuse 'I can't stop my character' violates those boundaries and is disrespectful to other players. This is why we request that players get consent, enthusiastically, before hand. The Social Department may want to go into more detail on that in the future to provide guidelines on situations where you may want to check in with your fellow players to make sure they're on board with the scene.
In regards to the game system we simply just cannot have people eyeballing the numbers or flat out ignoring them, especially in matters that can affect the Settings. In casual RP this a lesser issue, but even still a habit we would like to try and avoid in general, as it is in effect cheating in most situations. It isn't fair to the players in a session to develop these habits either. The System Department may have more to say on that matter as well.
No major additions from a System side, just to reemphasize that a character's abilities from a system standpoint are reflected only by their numbers and the descriptions of their skills, and should be used according to the rules of the site. For instance, Elves do not automatically get keen senses or an affinity for magic just because a given player sees elves that way. Those are abilities which have to be paid for and written into a skill just like any other. Someone who sees their character's magic as being natural and automatic still needs to roll it to use it, etc.
Similarly, we encourage SHs to run sessions for the enjoyment of the players, not out of a sense of obligation to the metaphysical characters and NPCs involved. Any fudging of numbers or choice not to call for a roll at any given time should be done out of a sense of fun for the players only, not out of courtesy to the characters themselves, and should follow the same guidelines outlined in the SH Course
System wholeheartedly supports dropping 'seeing' as a basis for site decisions. Individuals are welcome to whatever philosophy they find harmony with, but in terms of a basis for site decisions, 'seeing' is simply not an appropriate approach.
Content Creation Guidelines and Templates
We are developing a set of standards to judge submitted material by. That way we can clearly say why something is or is not ready for play and give guidance on how to improve it. Submission guidelines for content are available here: http://vaxia.org/wiki/posting-templates-and-content-creation-guides and http://vaxia.org/wiki/setting-policies
With moving all of our Setting reference material to a wiki format we needed a way to make sure all that information for both settings was following the same format. This to make our reference materials as clear and easy to follow as possible. This also helps ensure that content for either setting is not arbitrarily added and that all facets of the settings have as much information out there as possible to maintain the tone and theme of the settings.
This also helps the Setting leads in having a way to help explain why and what would cause them to not accept content as it was submitted, so the content may be revised to something acceptable.
The transitioning of the voice setting information in the wiki from IC to OOC
Our reference material will be in OOC voice from here on out, to provide an authoritative answer for Storyhosts in a shared world. IC material will be considered story or biased source only.
In the past our setting reference material was handled in the ICpedia format - which was where all reference material had to be re-written in an IC voice by characters and NPCs. While a potentially fun project and could provide some IC flavor, the IC voice does not provide the kind of concrete information needed to help introduce new players to the setting and made it difficult to make sure everyone was on the same page.
With the move to a wiki format for our reference material the voice of the materials are going to be put into an OOC voice. This is to ensure that the information is concrete to help players know the setting and what expect when they play in them.
Anything in an IC voice once that is done will be considered a story and is merely there to help provide some flavor should a player desire to play off of that, but that information is not more then just flavor and not considered the official information.
The development of policy for characters that require Setting approval
- Mental Disorders Setting Approval for Mental Disorders http://vaxia.org/forums/new-condition-mental-disorder-rfc
- Underage Characters (both actual age and appearance)
This is mostly a legal precaution as any mature roleplay with a character that is a child or even looks like a child may catch legal attention and be flagged as child porn which is a legal nightmare. There is also the need to make sure the player is ok with potentially their character having their consent taken away from them as older characters would treat them like a child in the real world would be.
- Magic/psionic users http://vaxia.org/forums/sirian-magic/psionics-condition-notice
- Digital Metalborn
These are characters that had their conscious uploaded.
The past methods of approving characters that fell under 'Other' or had specific conditions felt too arbitrary and had high risk of being abused, or having favoritism shown. In order to alleviate those feelings and ensure a more fair method of approving characters that required Setting approval a policy was developed to follow.
There are some additions to what would require Setting approval beyond species that are not on the standard list (our species drop down on our character sheets reflect the current standard list) and certain conditions. Conditions are something that can affect any species.
Current conditions that require approval:
The tone, theme and setting of Sirian setting is being moved to a more hard sci-fi feel.
This is to provide a truly different feeling setting for our players to play in from the Vaxia setting. We already have the fantasy fans covered - we need to get more of the sci-fi fans set up with a setting they can enjoy. This means taking down some of the less-grounded elements in the Sirian setting - such as magi-tech and Star Wars style fantasy-in-sci-fi robes.
For more information on what is hard sci-fi visit: http://vaxia.org/wiki/hard-sci-fi
Crowd Sourcing Setting Projects
We are actively encouraging player development! The Setting leads are more like editors than sole-creators of content. We'll be regularly setting up Setting projects to fill gaps in the settings.
The Setting leads are not the sole creators of content for the settings of this site. Their role is largely that of an editor where they make sure that content created by the players match the theme and tone of the setting as well as that content follows the templates and guidelines that are developed. It is also worth repeating that this also means Setting leads must also explain why and what would cause them to not accept content as it was submitted, so the content may be revised to something acceptable.
Any player is welcomed, and even encouraged, to create content for either of the settings of the site.
On occasion the Setting leads will post up a crowd source project when we are looking for contributions for specific content projects for a setting or even both settings. It is a great opportunity to try your hand in adding to our community. All contributions will be evaluated and will be worked with to try and make the contribution work.
Working with Storyhosts as a Team
We want Storyhosts on the site to view their efforts here as a team. We want the A/SH crew to work together as a group to keep the settings moving and vibrant.
That means if you get stuck on a saga, you should feel free to call in a second for help. If your saga and another's saga cross over - that's a good thing. Keeps things up and unexpected for the players.
It also means if you have secrets about an NPC or an item: We *need* you to share them with the team. If you ever find yourself writing down "please see me for details" you're doing it wrong - that's what the private SH notes for NPCs, PCs, and Items are for
If it's not written down, it doesn't exist and Setting may fill it in regardless of the original intentions of the SH.
Encouraging Use of Open NPCs as the Standard
Going along with the SH teamwork - we want to encourage use of Open NPCs in smaller regular roles to give players a familiar world to play in. In addition, all major NPCs are to be Open NPCs and are not individually owned.
An open NPC is basically a NPC that can be accessed by all A/SHs. The more we use and re-use the same NPCs as quest givers or even just casual interaction (the same bar maid or the like) the more we can convey a consistent and engaging world for our players. The more the players will get to know their 'regulars' and the more likely we can inter-weave plots. Ideally almost all NPCs should be considered for open-NPC status if possible.
What is meant by a major NPC is like a king, or empress, military commander,etc. In essence it is a NPC that is seen as a major figure head or aspect in the setting. These kinds of NPCs tend to be the givers of major plots, would be involved in many storylines of the setting, and are a large part of the consistency of the world they exist in. Hence it is important that everyone can access these NPCs. This also ensures that no matter what happens to a SH we can keep the major aspects of the setting up to date, involved, and keep the plots that players are involved with those figure heads going.