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StormWolfe

Rules and Registration Page Review

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Good Day,

 

We are preparing our sword and sorcery site for reopening. Having seen so many posts on stupid rules ūüėȬ†and the like, I would dearly love to have a few people give mine a good going-over. Also, I would appreciate it if you guys would do a review on the Account Registration instructions. Tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly. If all goes well, we're about a month out from our soft opening so I am trying to get my ducks in a row. I will ask for an actual review of the site and the lore after we are open and posting. ūüėĄ

 

Thanks y'all!¬†ūüíô

 

Site is Chronicles of Aereth.

 

Site Lore is Aereth Codex

 

The Rules

 

Account Registration


Someone somewhere went to sleep and dreamed us all alive.
Dreams get pushed around a lot, and I doubt if we'll survive.
We won't get to wake up, dreams were born to disappear.
And I'm pretty sure that none of us are here.
~ None of Us Here by Jim Stafford ~

 

sagas-button1.png.467e9214ee1a2d2a24c0030301948c27.png   aereth5.png    Smuggler's Blues RPG

 

RPG-Initiative

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Hey!

 

In general, both docs look great! They're easy to follow, they're laid out nicely. The only real true suggestion I'd really encourage you to make is to rethink your "Character Contention" rule about notifying admin. I think that's a rule that has more ripple effects than you may have considered. I also think it's one that a lot of people are going to bawk at for being too controlling. I'll go into more details about why I feel like that below, but that's basically the "too long, didn't read" version. 

 

I've included a bunch of other stuff, but these really are more like when the teacher takes half a mark off because you used a colon instead of a semicolon. This thread could look very big, that's partly because I'm very good at ripping things apart and also a very wordy person lol. 

 

For your information, I'm going to declare a couple of biases so you can decide if you think I have relevant advice or not: 

  • ¬†I like rules more formal than personable

  • I'm very sensitive to rules that feel condescending, othering or hierarchal. I've run in some very strict leftist groups and I'm super tuned into sniffing out implications of "the man"¬†

  • While I've been lurking on directories for like the last five years I haven't actually written in a forum setting for almost 10

Anything I'm feeling is really a suggestion that reflects my tastes more than generally theory I'm going to mark with an *.
Similarly I'm going to mention putting on my "grinch glasses" which are the opposite of rose-coloured glasses. Their the, "I'm tired, I'm grumpy, I don't feel like thinking about why this is like this " or  "I've had a negative experience with something like this before and now it's tainting this new thing"  frame of mind that I'm including because it can be useful to get those kinds of gut reactions, but I also want to be clear that they're heavily biased, split second reactions that don't tend to last long at all.

 

The last note is, some of this may sound redundant, in the sense of "you just told me to remove the first half of this sentence, and then to remove the whole sentence". I don't want to tell you what to do, I want to explain my logic so you can decide if you think it makes sense to change. So each point is written assuming you've ignored all other suggestions.

 

ACCOUNT REGISTRATION:

Love: "We also encourage you to join our Discord for live chat and quicker help with issues." Knowing where to ask for more help is awesome.

Confusion: "You will only need one OOC account to participate in the roleplay. However, once you have created characters, you may post with any of them." That line I had to reread. I'm assuming from how other platforms work this means I'll end up making secondary character accounts and linking them at some-point?

Love: Pictures! Very helpful.

Confusion*: "You need to be on the Chronicles of Aereth website." seemed redundant until I realized these instructions are on another site. I don't know that if I wasn't reviewing it I would have thought to check. Something like "we're currently on the codex" or whatever that site is called might help.

Love: The clearly marked arrow and text pointing out where the tabs are.

 

RULES:

A General note about tone*: Currently you've got some stray exclamation points that read like you're suddenly very emotionally attached to a few points in your rules. When I put my grinch glasses on, it reads like the "!" are all marking that whoever wrote it is feeling protective of their lore and makes inclined to believe that the note about changing lore is there because that's the correct thing to have rather than an actual invitation to do so.

There's also feels like chunks of the rules were written by different people, or over a wide span of time and that never edited for consistency. I'd advise picking a style and leaning into it. Either a loose, personable tone or a serious, business tone would work would work but try and stay consistent.

 

CODE OF CONDUCT:

Love: Seeing the call for kindness and respect and calling out harassment and bullying as unacceptable.

Grinch Glasses*: "no bad roleplay" is something that made me roll my eyes, it's very... prescriptive? judgey? Feels like there's only one good way to write as opposed to, here's the style of writing we want you to use on this site.  Similarly, "if you don't know what it is" is a phrase that's off-putting because it's (I'm pretty sure unintentionally) creating an in-group / out-group dynamic. There's this connotation of "well lots of people already know this". I'd personally rephrase the whole thing to something like "We use the Bad Roleplay Guide as our style guide for how we'd like our players to write."

 

MATURE CONTENT POLICY

Nitpick*: "To view mature content on our site, you must…" you could use a colon there instead of an ellipse to make it feel more formal, which personally I feel matches that sections tone. 

Love: Link to more directions if necessary. Helps keeps things tidy while offering support.

Love: The extra information about private and admin ability to see birthdays. Easy to pick out of the list if you need to come back to it.

 

THE RULES OF MAGIC

Information Order:  I'd take the second paragraph and put it under the list. It helps to keep the exact context of the list as you read forward. If you do that I'd also suggest changing "use of magic." to "use of magic..." or "use of magic:" to match the rest of the document.

Flavourful text*: There is more information in these rules than there needs to be. In this case in particular I'd say that's a detriment because it's putting emphasis on things I don't think you intended to. Grinch glasses on, it feels like you're writing reactively to a couple of specific players and that makes me worry if those kinds of people are going to already be on that site. 

Here are the specific things:

  • Rule 1: "The abilities are in the documents for a reason!" is redundant and could just be removed
  • Rule 2: "Aereth's magic is based in elemental magic, nature, and ritual." is the only relevant part. You don't need to bring up harry potter at all, you don't need to describe other magic systems at all. I was going to put a suggestion for what to put instead of "no waving a wand" but I've actually got no idea how¬†magic is used just from your rules. Gesture? Thought? Emotion? Highlight what's cool and unique about your system in a nice short sentence and it can act like a hook for people to go learn more in your lore, rather than thinking about "... but I like wands and poof..."
  • Rule 3*: "The affinity [to use magical abilities] may exist from birth but the ability to use it has to be learned." is the only relevant bit.
  • Rule 6*: "Last, but not least" is unnecessary. The first two sentences of are fluff.
  • Generally*: Exclamation points here really feel like they're highlighting the importance of the lore

Contradiction: Rule 6 doesn't directly contradict Rule 1 but having both "the abilities are in the documents for a reason!" and then "if what you want is not there, ask us" feels clashing. I'm thinking what you mean is there's a specific logic to what abilities a species can have, but a near infinite number of things that work within those rules? I'm not sure that's quite right, but I think you need to consider what your specific logic is for having both of those rules there and find a good way of explaining that concisely.

Confusion*: I'm having some trouble with rules 5 and 6. Note I haven't actually read your lore, but this is information that, if I was trying to reference it, I'd probably look for with the rules of magic. So, I'm gathering how magic works is each race has an arcane ability list in the lore, but it's an intentionally incomplete list so you can ask about stuff if you don't see what you want. From that list you can declare which abilities you're taking in your bio, and those are the only abilities your character can use? If that's true adding something to that affect in the rules might be useful.

Information order*:  I would reorder a bunch of these rules, so that rules that are grouped together by how relevant they are to each other. This just makes it a smoother read. So I'd want rules 1, 5 & 6 clustered together since they're about picking and playing your abilities, 1 & 6 near each other because they talk about the race list, 3 & 4 together because they're about how characters get powers, and 2 & 5 together because they're about how magic is played in posts. So 1, 6, 5, 2, 3, 4 or 3, 4, 1, 6, 5, 2 or something.

 

CHARACTER DRAMA

General note*: My understanding of the tone this site changed dramatically from the beginning of the section by the time I got to character contention. I went from thinking this was a conflict heavy game to thinking you'd rather have no conflict. Grinch glasses on, to read it in that order and have that understanding shift, it felt like either there's two competing ideas about how the site should be in terms of how much player conflict there should be, or the staff doesn't know how to structure a site to get the kind of play they'd like to see. Grinch glasses off, I think you guys wrote these rules with worse case scenario in mind and that accidentally created a framing that makes it sound like your site is way more into player vs player (pvp) than you meant it to. I would really suggest re-structuring the whole section with the idea in mind that, what you read first affects how you think of what you read second.  Suggestions for that are integrated below.

 

Love: Having the definition of limited consent onsite, and both presented as not something people are necessarily going to know, but also something they may have heard of.

Clarification wanted*: "However, if an admin has to step in to move plot thread forward, that will be done." I assume this means site plots and not character subplots?

Love: Pointing out admin will try to minimize any inconvenience if they need to move the plot forwards, very reassuring.

LIMITED CONSENT

Information structure*: The information about limited consent is really entangled in information about when the admin breech it. This gave me the sense that you were bracing the reader for the hard reality of consent is a thing that may be breeched fairly often here. Which isn't a negative thing, and I didn't plan on mentioning anything about it, except that really created a tone clash with other parts of this section. I'd really suggest separating admin exceptions from what limited consent is. *Maybe add to the latter a little why you've chosen that form of consent and how that highlights the sort of play you're encouraging on your site.

Information order*:  "Certain negative consequences can be enforced without roleplayer agreement. Character death, physical damage..." I'm cutting it off there to highlight my point- we both know that sentence ends with char death being excluded from that, but starting that sentence it feels like we're going to be talking about how char death can be enforced without your consent. Maybe rephrase to something like "While severe consequences require consent other negative consequences can be enforced without roleplayer agreement".

Love: Examples of what counts as severe consequences.

Clarification wanted*: I'd love some examples of the less severe consequences to compare and contrast with the severe ones.

Information order: I'd really suggest taking the "Aereth welcomes..." paragraph and bumping it up to the top of the Character drama section. I think it represents your core values for this section; that the other rules in this section exist to try and reinforce those values.

CHARACTER DEATH

Love: Call to contact admin gives direction in difficult situation. 

CHARACTER CONTENTION

Love: Call to communicate with the other players about IC contention. 

Continuity: Admin is capitalized here and nowhere else in this document.

Grinch Glasses*: The admin rule reads like "we don't have an atmosphere where people generally know the difference between IC contention and OOC contention, and we're desperate to nip it in the bud.".That reads like, where ever it is you're pulling most of your members from, they default to high OOC drama and I don't want to be a part of it. It also reads like, without everyone having proof of consent, we don't know how to make judgments on our rules. Which like, grinch glasses off, big mood. Dealing with conflict especially if anyone's trying to rules lawyer is such a bloody task.

Feels controlling: I had a really strong gut reaction to this, because I internalized it as "every time I have a plot that has any kind of conflict with another player, I have to basically get permission from the admin". It's kinda like when you're a kid and you have to tell your parents before you go to the store, really they just need to know where you are but telling them also has this connotation that they can veto your action if they want. It feels kinda like, what usually is only a choice between the players involved now also has to get admin approval.

Discouraging conflict: This rule adds an extra step to one specific kind of plot. Which doesn't feel like a lot but little boundaries like that can do a lot of discourage people from taking an action. Maybe that's not a bug it's a feature for your site. But you had said in the rules you were striving for balance. Grinch glasses on: it reads like you pay lip service to a balanced game, but the value that's getting enforced structurally is anti-conflict. There's no rule saying you should send a message "hey, we've planned a humour thread, heads up", incase the other person had actually wanted a melodramatic thread and that caused OOC tension.

Frequency of conflict plots: One of my first thoughts when I saw that rule was, the bulk of western storytelling is based on conflict and resolution, and since that tradition is what this style or roleplaying is based on it's not hard to extrapolate that a lot of the pvp plots will have some form of contention. It sounds like there's a big site plot- but there's no reference to it being the main source of conflict. From your list of what you're trying to balance, it would still make up sort of 20% of your threads.

Definition of contention: I'd strongly suggest adding a definition of contention somewhere, because most places I can think of would use the term conflict instead, and I'm wondering if there's some specific meaning you're trying to convey using contention. That said, conflict and contention are both loaded words so it's good to get everyone on the same page. 

ACTIONS AND CONSEQUENCES

Inclusivity*: "He or she" is outdated and exclusive of nonbinary pronouns. "They" can be used as a gender neutral, singular pronoun. 

Clarification wanted*: This section has an example but no concrete rule, which I'm guessing would read something like "consequences are persistent and follow real world logic"

Love: Easily to follow example and follow up into what else it might cover.

CHARACTER REACTIONS

Love: I just love that this is here. Short, simple, to the point.

 

REQUIREMENTS

Tone: The introductory paragraph is a way different tone from the rest of the piece.

ACTIVITY

Ease of reading*: This section would be a great reference to come back to, it'd be wonderful if it was in a bulleted form

WORD COUNTS

Permission to change*: "Currently" suggest you're not sure if you're going to stick with this format.  Since word-counts can be a make or break thing for a lot of people, consider making that it's own sentence so it doesn't get lost. 

Complex sentences*: This paragraph has a lot of grammatically complex sentences, which isn't a bad thing but I think it might be easier to read if you simplified it to something like "Currently there is not a mandatory word count, but a minimum of one sentence. To avoid one-line posts we ask members consider using our joint-post system".

Love: "move the plot forwards and allows... for a decent response" is a great bit of advice and direction

CHARACTER LIMITS

Clarification wanted*: In what way are Travelers an exception?

ADVERTISING and also AFFILIATING

Definition of discrete:  Do you want something that's just doesn't read like an ad? Or is it about the size / colour of the the ad? If the below rules are clarifiers, could discrete be removed and "that follow these rules" added to the end?

Continuity nitpick*: "700px x250px" is the only time you use that format on this document, usually you leave the "px" off

Visual clarity: for "4 88x31" it'd honestly be tempted to write four instead just to make it easier to pick out

 

Again, there's a lot of suggestions up there, but I really feel like these documents of yours are presenting as well laid out, easy to read and written by people who are invested in their site. If I was interested in a sword and sorcery site, these rules generally wouldn't keep me away. That one about contention though, I'd probably be too lazy to put the effort into checking to see if it meant what I thought it did. But yeah, good work! Getting rules laid out and in order like that is no small task!

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