setting department

setting department

Setting Policies

Here are the policies and guidelines that help us create content for both our settings as well as how we handle certain concepts within them as well. This ensures consistency, clarity, Transparency and the ability to make non arbitrary decisions in regards to our settings and characters.

There is some cross-over with the System Department as these policies help us maintain game balance, and some cross-over with the Social Department to ensure our content is not harmful in anyway to our players.

Some of our policies are about preserving the theme and tone of our Settings and the handling certain aspects of game design that could be particularly tricky for our game setup.

Though much of our policies are concerned with content design and submission. This is to help make sure anyone and everyone can submit content for the settings. It is also about making sure what is submitted is readable by everyone. This is also why many content submission guidelines have a word count limit to help make sure that someone isn't overloaded with information and can easily find the important need to know parts.

When it comes to the wiki - this is where we keep -all- of our information, it is how players learn about the setting and get the ideas on what to expect - It was once said: For a new player, the wiki is THE way to make heads or tails of the world

Therefore the target audience of our wiki information is the players. While yes there is information in here that is largely applicable for A/SHs, still we want to keep our players informed of everything - after all it is the players that become the A/SHs and so on.

All official information also needs to be in the OOC voice. IC perspectives can be fun, but can make things very confusing. Therefore keeping such information in the OOC voice 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.

Before anything is created it is advised to see if that information could instead be used to expand on something that already exists. We want to aim for quality -not- quantity. Too many little articles can easily overwhelm players, especially a new player, and important information can quickly get buried. Therefore if something can be used to supplement or expand an existing article it will be considered for that first before something completely new will be made.

Our setting content is not owned by any single player (A/SH or not) and no one person gets more say than another about it. This content is owned by the entire community, which means anything created can be used or questioned by anyone at anytime. This is to keep content from falling behind, keep things dynamic and moving, and keep content from getting too limited. Anyone at anytime can contribute new material to existing material following the guidelines. This is what we want to encourage. This content is -everyone's-.

Any submission of new content or discussion of our content should happen onsite for it to be recorded and able to be verified. Remember - if it is not written down in the wiki or approved in the forums, then it does not exist - and is not considered official. The forums are a fantastic place for this and we strongly encourage for people to make as much use of them as possible. It is fine to do drafts off site before bringing them to the forums, and if you are shy about sharing work or do not wish to join the Setting Department in order to post on the Setting forums, then you can also directly pm people in Setting you are comfortable with to let them present it on your behalf. Any offsite communications about setting materials will not be considered official until they are brought to the site for discussion, the one exception is if it is answering a question about information that has already been recorded somewhere on site.
See also: Transparency

Player characters may be referenced in a wiki article - but only the relevant information to that article should be there. The wiki is not to be used to house 'personal' pages for a player character, all that information should be on their sheets. This help keeps our wiki focused on relevant setting information to help players navigate and learn about the setting, prevent an accidental 'kidnapping' of a character as someone may think the character was a NPC, and keep other people from altering a player character without the player's permission.

For updates on Setting changes see: Recent Setting Changes

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Playable Species Submission Guidelines

Cultural Iceburg

NOTE: We are going to actively work towards using the correct terms for our fantasy and sci-fi species at this time. Which is to say "species". Races are sub-groups within a species that demonstrate visible differences from other members of the species - no one race of a species should be considered the 'default' for that species.

Prerequisites:

In order to make sure you are familiar with the community, its interests, needs, and have a basic understanding of what the site is looking for we have a HXP requirement for your player account. You will need to have earned 40 HXP by the time you submit the new species. This is the same minimum HXP requirement before becoming an SH.

Introducing a new species is a lot of work for Setting, so we want to be sure there is enough interest in the species to be worth that effort. You will need at least two players interested in playing the species during the play-testing phase. These players may include yourself under certain requirements (see notes on Play-testing).

Play-testing:

For the first three months of the species's introduction, they will be receiving a lot of extra attention and coordination from the Setting Department to set consistent tone and answer questions as they come up. This is an important time to establish the species and can cause some significant Conflict of Interest for a creator who is also playing his own creation.

If you, the creator of the species, want to be the one to set the tone and answer questions during the 3 month play-testing period then you need to be able to remain impartial when you answer them. Which means you will need to wait three months until you play one yourself - but in the meantime you are officially the person who can answer questions and further develop the setting element. After play-testing is complete, the Setting department will be in charge of handling any further questions regarding the species (as it is for other species).

If you really want to play during the three month play-test instead of being the go to person for answering questions, then after the initial pitch let the Setting leads know that you will be playing in the play-test. At that point, the Setting department will be in charge of answering species related questions as the authoritative voice on the species and you'll be free to play.

The creator can not tell how a player to play their character of the species, this goes with the there is no one singular default to how the species can be. If any conflicts should arise between the creator and the testers, then the Setting leads will step in to resolve the conflict.

The creator will need to find two players that would be interested in playing a character of that species full time. This means those players can not just play those characters once or twice a month, but rather more like a couple of days a week. At least 50% activity needs to be seen in that three month span to ensure enough interaction is seen to determine of the species will fit within the theme and tone of the Setting.

The creator also may not use sessions as a means to introduce the species, this is what the play-testers are for. This is also to further ensure that the creator remains impartial during the play-testing, even if they are a play-tester themselves, and to make sure that players are truly interested in the new species itself.

It is important to keep in mind that the play-testing phase is a probationary period, the species is still not approved for general play until after it has a successful play-test.

Should the players that are play-testing loose interest, the creator will have a week to find a replacement testers. If not then the play-test will be considered a failure. Other failures may also include inability to resolve conflicts between the creator and the testers, or if at any time the species should be found to not fit within the theme and tone of the setting, or if there was not enough activity from the play-testers.

In the case of a failed play-test and Setting will work on an exit strategy for the play-tested characters in order to remove them from play.

Pitch:

Every new species starts with the same first step - a pitch. This pitch will cover the basic concept of the new species, any major niches they fulfill for players or in the setting, major cultures, and will include notes for any mechanical systems that the System Department may need to review to support playing the species.

Pitches will be reviewed by the Setting department and leads and any major issues highlighted during this time - we ask that pitches be sent on PM to leads or posted on the Setting Forum. Please do not drop new pitches directly into the Wiki, since that's where we will be keeping a record of the accepted material and we don't want to confuse a new player who doesn't know that the species they're looking at isn't approved yet.

If you send the pitch over PM either because you want to get an initial take on it or because you aren't able to post on the Setting forums, understand the pitch will eventually make it's way over to the forums for eventual review before going live for play testing.

Pitch Requirements:

Being able to put a lot of words on the page isn't nearly as useful as putting the right words on the page.

Word-count: between 1900 and 2100 words (aim for 2k)

Your target audience is the new player who hits the wiki and sees the species - this means we need something tightly written and easy to understand. Anything too short won't have the material they need - anything too long won't actually get read and that helps no one.

This word-count target also helps us make sure that one player species is not over-emphasized in comparison to another. Where one species has a wealth of information compared to others, it can give the impression that that species is the 'better' or more important. Which is not where we're going with this - so it is important that you stick within this word count.

Expected content:

* Species name, physical habits, anatomical description. This part will probably be really short, you should leave off any cultural aspects such as decorations or clothing. Just stick with the basics of height, weight, physical features, etc.

* Primary locations they can be found on one or more continents. If they are found 'everywhere', consider what environment they may be found in (mountainous, forested, urban, etc).

* Origins. Why have we not encountered them in the past? Or why have they been so marginalized in the past that we haven't heard of them in any RP up till now?

* Primary cultures found within the species. You will need to describe more than one culture for the species. This would include examples of names and languages. This section should includes a basic society structure, governance if it applies, and family unit details. Relationships with other groups in the area of the culture is useful as well. Aim to provide enough basic information that a new player can readily create a character from the species and each given culture.

Free-will:

The very definition of a player character is that they have free will. In order to be a playable character this is a requirement for the species. This means the species cannot fall under the categories of "always-good" or "always-evil”. Individuals of the species must be capable of making their own choices and drawing their own conclusions about those around them. They must be capable of exercising free will.

Advantages / Disadvantages:

As tempting as it is to build in specific advantages and disadvantages to a species that is not how our System mechanics work. If a player wants to have a specific advantage they may use the species as the reasoning for taking the skill and paying for it with their XP. They do not automatically receive the benefits without a skill and would roll to use it in RP as per normal rules.

Non-monoculture:

Fantasy has a very bad habit which is shared somewhat by sci-fi works. That bad habit is treating species as race. This is a sign of an underdeveloped species and in the past has bordered on stereotyping and codifying real-life racist setting elements. For example: Commonly Dwarves are treated as caricatures of the Scottish, and drow have too many parallels to stereotypes of African-Americans. Similarly, fantasy cultures based on the cultures of South and East Asia tend to blend several Asian cultures together into an unrecognizable sludge used to apply to the entire diverse region.

These things matter. These things hurt real people.

At the time these ideas were created we may not have been aware of what we were doing. We are now and we have no excuse for continuing them. Even if we are writing a species a particular way because we admire the background reference - it’s not healthy. To make sure that we avoid this, the Setting department requires at least two strong and distinct cultures within a species - this may be as simple as noting the cultural differences between different regions where the species is found.

If the origin of the species is a single point, such as a created species, we still require a non-monoculture. A species with free-will will grow over time and develop variations. If you don't have that as an option, for example the species was only recently created, then we would like to see suggestions on where the species may develop in the future to fulfill this requirement and would prefer that you advance your timeline.

Species are *not* required to all speak the same language. Speaking the same language implies the species has a singular point of origin. While this is a common fantasy trope, your writeup should assume that different cultures at least exhibit dialects.

If you are Stuck on Culture
We are going to be strict on multiple cultures and if you are new to this or focused on your one-true-form of the species it's likely you may be asked to go through a few rounds of development.

Conflicting groups that live within the same area or share the same origin story are almost certainly going to be considered political divisions not cultural divisions. Culture is not just a matter of food eaten or clothing worn or even city lived in. We need deeper differences between the groups of the species in order to be sure that we aren't getting a one-point of view on the species. Two members of the species from different cultures should have a difficult time understanding where the other is coming from unless they do some work to learn.

The cultural iceberg image above is a good starting point for this work. If the only differences in your cultures are those above the waterline and we cannot logically infer differences below the waterline from what you describe: then your pitch isn't ready. If you are having trouble designing multiple cultures, take a look at the topics below the waterline and answer some of those questions. Consider how a different answer will influence the group.

Last bits:

You may find yourself bumping up against the 2k word limit because you have a lot of details about a specific culture within the species or you have a wealth of anatomical information. Ideally, we need you to boil it down to the most important points. Keep in mind that our target audience is a new player with a short attention span. If he can't sit down long enough to read the information on the species, then it's not going to do anyone any good.

If you can't boil that information down to the most important points then keep it in a separate file as supplemental material. The supplemental material will not be read or considered for the pitch. As we improve the information available on the species and get all of them up to spec, then we will be able to start adding the supplemental material after the play-test is complete. So keep hold of it, just don't expect it to be immediately in play.

Template:

  • Lifespan:
  • Typical Height:
  • Typical Build:
  • Distinctive Traits:
  • Where Found:

Physical Details
A few paragraphs.

Origins
(If relevant)

Culture One
A few paragraphs. Include all things requested for cultures above.

Culture Two
A few paragraphs. Include all things requested for cultures above.

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Setting Department

The Setting Department is responsible for the development and maintenance of the game settings of vaxia.org. The setting department is responsible for creating and maintaining documentation on the setting to be stored publicly in the wiki and providing training on setting details. This department also approves world-changing sessions and sagas proposed by storyhosts and resolves any consistency issues between existing plots and sessions. The setting department is responsible for confirming if a thing exists in the setting but is not responsible for implementing the system mechanics for it.

Each specific game-setting on vaxia.org has two setting leads. A site member may serve as a lead for more than one setting at a time so there will be a minimum of two leads in the setting department but they should make it clear at any point which setting they are speaking for at the time.

The forums are the best way to contact Setting with any ideas or concerns. This will allow for all members to see the discussion and contribute as needed. The current year's leads will also be posted there with the department's yearly to do list. Forum with the Election Results

Setting Department Forum
If unable to post in the Setting forums then use the General Discussion Forums


Contributing to Settings

The best way to think of the Setting leads is that they are the editors while all the players and SH’s are their writers for content.

The settings of Vaxia are open to have any member of the site write content for them. However this must be done in a way to make sure that this content makes sense, fits within the genre and flavor of the setting, and is within the guidelines of the system, which is what the Setting Department does. Should any content be rejected, the writer of the content should receive a detailed explanation on why the content would not work for the setting the submitted it for in order to allow them to rewrite it if they so choose.

However there are some exceptions to content needing review and approval like sessions. Most sessions will not need Setting to approve them. The Site Continuity section has some examples on when a A/SH would need to contact Setting to get approval for their idea. Though if an A/SH is unsure for any reason about an idea they have for a session it is best to just go ahead and ask Setting about it and get some feedback.


Catching Inconsistencies

Setting catches inconsistencies and works on maintaining records of events and locations along with the A/SHs and players, and ensures our content is up to date. On occasion maintenance can mean changing what has already written, however it is something that is not done arbitrarily and must adhere to the guidelines and protocol established for writing new content, and preserve what history it can.

A/SHs must get permission before running things out of the ordinary! This should be obtained from both Setting Lead(s), via pm that both leads are a part of. NOTE: Only On-Site Requests are allowed - following the principles of Transparency

If the session has become a saga (a session story that is told over multiple sessions for a length of time) then Setting shall observe the saga, facilitates crossovers with other A/SHs if ended, and maintain IC consistency across the various sessions, as the saga or story lines unfold.

In general, at least an outline of a saga needs to be presented to the Setting leads to enable them to help coordinate others with their own stories with it or to be able to continue the saga for the active players should the original A/SH fall out of contact or become unable to run sessions for any reason.

Setting is empowered to null aspects of sessions, rp, and characters that are inconsistent with the greater whole. It is something that is not done lightly, and normally is involved with a case of Real Life Harm


World Changing Sagas

On occasion Setting may encourage and facilitate plots that may drastically change the tone of the setting. This may happen on behest of the players of the site, or if the story of the settings advance in such a manner to happen, or as a means to help reboot a setting to make it more playable. Some examples are the Naga Nori War in Vaxia and the The Crowned in Sirian.

Such plots can and will have a long term and very lasting effect allowing other members of the site to pick up on stories/sessions that continue playing out the aftermath of the larger plot. It is in effect a wide scale saga so permission must be granted from both Setting Leads before such plots are done. It is their job to make sure the setting(s) are in alignment. NOTE: Only On-Site Requests are allowed - following the principles of Transparency.

If an SH happens to stumble into something extraordinary without expecting to do so, for example, half way through a session, he is still required to obtain permission after the IC events have transpired. This is not preferable, because if nulled*, it will be much harder to undo. Where possible an SH should try to defer solidifying the results of the situation until he has a chance to talk to Setting. (It's ok to tell a player you need to put them on hold so you can ask Setting a question.)


Preventing Power Creep

As characters gain power it's tempting to adjust numbers to match them. Unfortunately this leads to an arms-race for numbers that can leave new players unable to function. It also robs players of their earned rewards! A player who has spent XP to get a strong character should get to enjoy having a strong character.

Setting is half of the team that provides oversight and approval of items over +10 bonus, NPCs with Stats and/or skills at or over 70. In the case of items however, Setting works closely with System to maintain game balance. Setting is largely responsible for saying what kind of items exists in the setting, while System checks the numbers.

Setting also works with System on overseeing and managing companions, familiars, or vehicles much like they do with items. Again this is a matter of Setting managing what is reasonable to exist in the setting and System handling the numbers.


Approving Concepts

Setting approval may be required for certain species, conditions or certain backgrounds. This is part of Setting’s responsibility for overseeing and managing what species are available for play in the settings, as well as conditions, and certain backgrounds. Some species, conditions, and/or areas may require more experience and knowledge on the player’s end to ensure they know what they are going to encounter when they play a character such as that. Setting will create walk-throughs to help train players on what to expect as well as help provide additional information as they can.


Writing It Down

Setting leads must be present on the site. Part of the job is to answer questions from players and A/SHs regarding settings. Sometimes, you will have enough written materials to answer the questions from there, which is always preferable. Sometimes you will have to ask people who have worked the issues being asked, for which nothing is yet written down. Sometimes you will need to fill in the gap with something reasonable and consistent with prior material.

In All Cases: Setting must make sure the material is recorded in the wiki. If it's not written down, it doesn't exist.



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