NOTEWORTHY: A blogger's roleplaying game
[Draft 1.0 -- October 9, 2004 -- Allen Varney]
[Released under a Creative Commons license.]
One referee and 6-24 players; playing time: weeks or months. Each player requires an online weblog with an entry template that includes a "Current mood:" line. RSS feeds help too. The referee should keep a central blog or Wiki to coordinate the game.
In Noteworthy each player maintains his or her own blog as by one invented game character in a shared setting. All player characters (PCs) should be contentious, ambitious, combative, and eager to advance their own situation at the expense of other PCs. The blogs are themselves part of the setting, and all PCs can read each other's blogs. All PCs' entries chronicle remarkable developments in this setting, as witnessed or directly experienced by the characters.
A nonplayer referee periodically describes these noteworthy events to players in general terms. The PCs' entries, and their notes on each other's entries, elaborate and embroider the referee's description, and offer their own responses to these events. The events inevitably draw PCs into conflict. Inter-character conflicts are handled by challenge entries and by other PCs' support of these challenges. Losing PCs become outsiders, unaffected by ongoing events, though they can still post entries normally. The last PC left wins.
TURNS AND ENTRIES
The game proceeds in turns, held daily or at scheduled intervals decided by the referee. In a turn, you post at least one in-character entry on your blog and may also add any number of in-character comments (notes) to entries posted on any players' blogs (including your own). Obviously you cannot post entries yourself on other PCs' blogs, only notes on their entries -- and all notes you post must be in the persona of your own character. After a turn ends, no PC may post notes on entries from past turns; notes are permitted only on the current turn's entries.
Each blog entry you post must have a "Current mood:" line beneath the title. By describing your mood as "Challenging," you issue a challenge to another PC. The challenge is resolved as described below under "Challenges."
A new turn begins when the referee describes a new event. The referee might post this announcement on the central blog, or could send notification as simultaneous e-mails to all players. The referee may describe the same event to all players, or may tailor different events to specific PCs, as long as they all receive notification at the same time.
The event description is purposely general, such as "Your character sees another player character commit what appears to be a crime, and you take unorthodox action." As conflicts develop among the PCs, the referee may name specific characters and situations, but should always leave ample room for players to embroider.
At least one of your own blog entries in that turn must embroider or reflect on the specified noteworthy event. Your entry must add novel details not included in the referee's description. Each player's additions must be treated as fact! In their own entries and notes, other players must accept your additions as gospel truth, though they can reinterpret the additions by adding further novel details and amplifications.
PCs advance in the setting through challenges to other PCs. A blog entry with the "Current mood:" line "Challenging" constitutes a challenge. The challenger's entry must name exactly one target PC as the target of the challenge. Optionally, the entry may also describe the fate the challenger desires should befall the target. You cannot issue a challenge in a note to another PC's entry, only on your own blog.
No challenges are permitted in the first two turns of the game. Thereafter, you may challenge one PC per turn, and you may be challenged by others any number of times per turn. You cannot challenge yourself. You may withdraw your challenge before the end of a turn, but that still counts as your challenge for that turn. A withdrawn challenge has no effect.
The challenge is resolved through notes added to the challenge entry. Each PC still in the game (except the challenger and target) may, if he or she wishes, note clear support or opposition to the challenge. Optionally, the note may also describe a desired fate for the challenger, the target, the note's writer, or any other PC in the game, so long as these fates are plausible consequences of the challenge's success or failure. (Exception: A note cannot describe a fate that would remove any PC other than the target from the game.) If two PCs are challenging each other, you cannot support both sides.
If a PC notes both support and opposition to the challenge, the PC's most recent note holds sway. If a PC's position is ambiguous, the referee's interpretation is final.
At the end of each turn, or after a fair interval specified by the referee, the referee reviews each PCs' challenge and tabulates the notes supporting or opposing it. The majority wins; ties favor the target. The winner of the challenge advances in the setting in a way specified by the referee. The loser becomes an outsider and is no longer able to advance. An outsider still posts entries and notes normally, but cannot support or oppose challenges.
In deciding a challenge's consequences, the referee is not obligated to accept any player's suggested fate, but may at his discretion incorporate none, some, or all of the suggestions as influences on later events.
After the first two turns, if no PC makes a challenge in a turn, the referee should use a later turn's event to provoke a direct conflict and consequent challenges among at least two named PCs.
The referee may define other game actions appropriate to the setting, along with an identifying "Current mood:" line that indicates an entry is executing the action.
When only two PCs are still active (that is, are not outsiders), the referee's final event sets up a conflict between the two characters. Each of the involved PCs posts an entry detailing his desired outcome of this conflict; the two entries need not agree on details, nor need they accept the rival's details as fact.
Each outsider may now post a note supporting one side or the other (but not both sides). Post the note to the entry of the PC you support. After a fair interval the referee totals the votes and resolves the challenge normally; the winner of the challenge wins the game. The referee then posts a final notice describing the fate of any or all PCs.