By and large, Vaxian RP tends to be emotional and immersive. Normally, this is why we love it, but it does have one major downside: sudden losses in-character can have very real impacts on us out-of-character.
When that impact affects us in a real and noticeable way, we call it Real Life Harm (RLH), which is above and beyond the more minor emotional lows that might come from a bad guy getting away in a session or a streak of bad dice rolls. Real Life Harm can lead to genuine emotional difficult in our real lives, which is something we want to spare our players whenever we can.
For that reason, we have the No Real Live Harm (NRLH) rule. This policy is designed as a safety net to avert an in-character event that would result in Real Life Harm and replace it with one that isn't so damaging out-of-character.
The NRLH rule only applies to in-character circumstances, but it is not limited to anything in particular. It may be Character Death serious injury, loss of a treasured NPC, or a different major turning point. When invoked, the NRLH rule will update the outcome, but it should not be mistaken for an "undo" button - the new outcome will be as close to an equivalent as we can make it without doing harm.
For instance, character death might be replaced by serious injury that takes them out of the session or fight. It might result in stat changes to reflect a loss of limb or other function. Death of a beloved NPC might instead become a kidnapping that requires a great deal of silver to resolve. The exact circumstances are up to the ruling A/SH, who should work with the player invoking NRLH to determine what the next-best outcome would be to avoid the harm.
In some instances, A/SHs may prompt a player to ask about RLH, such as when their character just died in a session. Other times, it will be up to the player to invoke the NRLH rule.
In the latter case, use the Private Message system to contact the ruling A/SH. Let them know exactly what incident in the RP caused you RLH and give a rough explanation of what about it caused you harm so that they can adjust the scenario accordingly.
Remember that you may not get exactly what you want - in fact, it's best not to ask for specific alternative outcomes, as most A/SHs still want to help craft a scene rather than just narrate what you've given them. If you explain what about the scene caused you harm, you can trust them to design a new outcome based on those concerns.
If RLH happens in an RP that doesn't have a ruling A/SH, check the current list of A/SH members of the Social Department and reach out to one to invoke RLH. It would be best to pause the RP while your claim is being considered.
When NRLH does NOT apply
There are several situations where the NRLH rule cannot be invoked because of the nature of the RP or session itself.
- If you willingly consent to PvP, you cannot invoke NRLH if your character is seriously injured or killed in the contest. This includes if you have the "PvP allowed" flag on your character, so be sure to check it if you aren't ready to lose the character. The default setting is "no."
- If you attend a session with the "Character death possible" flag, you cannot invoke NRLH due to character death in that session. This includes if you have the "character death allowed" flag on your character, so be sure to check it if you aren't ready to lose the character. The default setting is "no."
- If an A/SH informs you of the potential consequences of an action out-of-character before you take it, and you take it anyway, you cannot then invoke NRLH after the fact to attempt to undo or change those consequences
If character death specifically would cause you RLH, we recommend saving up for a Save Point (explained under the Character Death rules) so that you can participate in character-death-flagged sessions or PvP without worrying about permanently losing the character.
A/SHs handling Real-Life Harm Rulings
If you're an A/SH and a player in a session or scene you're ruling has invoked NRLH, follow the process below
- If you're in the middle of the session/scene, update your ruling to something vague that removes the character from the remainder of the session/scene. A narrative like "Character A appears to be dead" leaves room for changes later after you've had time to consider the case.
- Let the player know that you are working with the Social department to review the case and will update them once a final ruling has been reached.
- Contact the Social Leads to report the claim, and include any details you feel are relevant for them to consider when reviewing it.
NOTE: All NRLH cases need to be reviewed by at least two members of the Social department, of which the ruling A/SH cannot be one - the ruling A/SH has no influence on the NRLH ruling to protect them from reprisals and possible Conflict of Interest The Social department will rule on the NRLH claim and work with the player on an agreeable alternative outcome.
- Once the Social department members have approved it, add the ruling to the IC room as a narrative or simply to the Session Report after the fact so that others who attended the session will know the outcome and how to approach the affected character in future RP.
Don't hesitate with RLH
If you think an IC event might trigger RLH for you, even if you're not 100% sure, go ahead and invoke the rule as soon as you think there's good potential for harm. If, a day or two later, you realizing you aren't bothered by the original outcome, you can simply drop the claim.
If instead you find you're still bothered a few days later, you'll already be closer to a less harmful outcome that the ruling A/SH and the Social department have had time to consider and work on. It's far better to invoke the rule can then drop the claim than to think you'll be fine and then have to invoke well after the fact, which can be more difficult for the A/SH to post-date.
Remember: not every claim is going to be valid based on the conditions of the session/scene involved, and you are not guaranteed to get an outcome you love. The goal is to mitigate harm as much as possible without drastically changing the IC outcome, so the end result may still leave you a little bummed, but it should leave you far less hurt than the original and able to get back to RPing and enjoying the site as soon as possible.
So, in summary:
- The NRLH rule is not intended to cover all IC occurrences we find sad or disappointing.
- NRLH rule applies when IC occurrences cause us lasting damage to our real lives, that we can not otherwise cope with.
- The A/SH will do their best to be compassionate and empathetic to your feelings, especially when you feel you may be suffering RLH, but may not be able to give you exactly what you ask for
- Invoking the NRLH rule is a serious thing, but that should not stop you from invoking it if you believe you are suffering RLH
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