Friday, November 12, 2010

Adjudication 101

Truth time, people. We don't play LARPs. We actually play LARPGs, but that just sounds gross.

The 'G' is for GAME.

Any game you play is going to, at some time, come down to some sort of rules dispute. Was he in-bounds? Did he roll a 5 or a 6? Did he actually swing at least 45 degrees on that strike? We do our best to play the honor game, and for interpersonal rules disputes, we have marshals. Marshals are human. Marshals are fallible. Sometimes "Marshals" don't even know the rules*.

We don't have instant replay, but what do have (at least in NERO) is the system for adjudication. Anything that is lost (except your dignity) can brought back, a la retcon. Some people think this only exists for deaths, but really any loss of items or gold can be adjudicated.

I see so many people holding grudges about rules calls that didn't go their way, and I've heard, and in my younger years said, "I'm not going to adjudicate, but I'm still angry about..." In my more recent, more lucid years, I've discovered that this is actually the opposite of what we should be saying. Keep in-game shit in the game.

I'm not asking for people to adjudicate every last thing that happens ("Some Orc didn't take my slay, I want his treasure!") You're going to simply waste the time of the rules council and create a longer delay for people who have real adjudications in process. But if something is a serious rules offense that leaves a bad taste in your mouth or would keep you from going back to a town, chapter, or game, then you might want to think about submitting an adjudication.

They're easy. Simply write a cordial letter to the appropriate party in that chapter (rules council, plot team, owner, etc). In this letter, include your name, your character's name, the event, the date of the incident, and all the involved parties. Separate the letter into 3 parts.
  • Introduction, stating what you are adjudicating
  • Description of the incident, stating only facts as you can remember them.
  • Why you believe it should be adjudicated.
That's it. It's so easy, a barbarian can do it**! If it's true that you should receive what you're asking for as defined by the rules, you'll get it. Because it doesn't matter. It's a game, and the plot team certainly doesn't get paid for screwing over players and stopping their adjudications***.

This is the only method that can get what you want, unless you're asking for a pony from Ghostcrawler. No amount of name calling or making people look stupid publicly will get your magic sword back.

Now, there is no guarantee that you'll actually get what you're asking for. What you will most certainly get, though, is closure. They will explain to you why the rules fell as they did, and everyone will be able to move on. And if their explanation is terrible, you now have a few options, including going up the chain to national or Gquitting (the G stands for game).

Almost every game has rules for adjudication, but the means and what can be overturned varies from game to game. If you can't find the rules for adjudication for your game, just ask them!

This reminds me of a saying my mom once told me.
You can catch more flies with honey than with forum trolling****.

*Some marshals are plot marshals, who are given power just because they run the game. This doesn't mean that they have passed any rules tests or anything.

**Tim loves those Geico Caveman commercials. I encourage everyone to post about them on his facebook.

***Plot teams are actually paid per death wail, so learn to die quietly if you want to directly reduce their income.

****Bad analogy. Why would anyone want to catch flies? We want to kill flies! Forum trolls have beaten horses to death - what makes you think they couldn't handle flies? I guess it's more like "a penny saved is a penny earned." I've got to work on that.

1 comment:

  1. I often see people choosing the wrong way to handle adjudications. They'll complain to their friends and any one else who we'll lend an ear. At this point a simple matter has turned into a huge epidemic involving 20 players. I'm not sure if it's intimidation or ignorance why they don't talk to plot. The people I know who run events, are nice people and will treat you with respect.

    Lack of marshals is sometimes a contributing factor. I think the game would be better off if they had specialized marshals: combat and spells, traps and thievery, formal magic, local play test, GAME MASTER. I know back in the day marshal certification was based off of any rule in the game which is overwhelming.

    You are right there are ppl marshaling that are not always certified. I've been asked on several occasions to, and I'm usually pretty reluctant to do so for fear of making a call and someone getting upset and it causing a huge problem from not being a certified marshal. On the other hand it's not feasible to have a marshal on everything, it slows up the game to much locating them.