Social

Social

Character Permissions

To help avoid bogging down sessions while A/SHs get clarification on what players are and aren't okay with for a given character, we added a series of character "flags" to let you signal in advance what you consent to on a given character.

You can find and update the flags under the Edit tab on your character sheet, under the Notes > Permissions section, close to the bottom of the page.

The current flags are:

  • Graphic sexual content - restricted to players over 18, allows for descriptions of explicit and detailed sexual situations
  • Player vs Player combat - allows for direct and possibly violent action against this character by other players (PVP)
  • Graphic violent content - allows for descriptions of explicit and detailed gore and violence
  • Mind control - allows for temporary loss of control of the character due to mind control or mental influence
  • Loss of consent - restricted to players over 18, allows in-character consent to be violated

All flags begin in the "off" position, signalling A/SHs and other players that you are not okay with any of the above until/unless you choose to enable them for that character. You can change these flags at any time outside of a ongoing session or PVP environment.

Character Permissions FAQ

Can I update my flags for a character whose participating in an ongoing session or PVP bout?
No. Once the session begins, the character's flags are locked until the session ends. This is also true for slow-post sessions!

Can I choose to "opt in" even if my flag is locked?
Yes - contact the ruling A/SH for the scene or session and let them know you are okay with the particular contact flag being lifted for that scene or session. You must make this exception in writing and on the site, so a forum post, Limbo post, OOC box in the session itself or private message are all viable options.

NOTE: Choosing to selectively enable a permission like this is not recommended and may bog down the session, so please take care not to overuse this exception. The ruling A/SH has the last say in whether the content (such as PVP) will be allowed in that scene/session. Once you have opted in like this, you cannot opt back out until the scene or session ends!

Can I choose to "opt out" even if my flag is locked?
No. If a given flag is enabled when the character joined the session or scene, then it cannot be disabled until the scene ends. This is why it's important to think carefully before enabling any flag, and it's a good idea to double-check before you join a session to ensure you're still okay with all enabled permissions.

Can I attack another player character even if my PVP flag is disabled, so long as theirs is enabled?
No. You can only attack another player character if BOTH of your characters have their PVP permissions enabled. This must be done before the start of the session or scene.

Can I update my permissions in the middle of casual RP?
Yes. Casual RP - where no A/SH is involved and nothing is being ruled - allows you to update your permissions at any time. Once dice start rolling an a A/SH is involved, flags are considered locked until the A/SH considers the scene complete. If you are unsure, contact the A/SH to clarify whether the scene is still considered ongoing.

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Notifications, Suspensions and Bans

When someone violates our Code of Conduct or other policies, they receive a warning or censure in the form of a Notification.

All notifications include:

  • The player receiving the notification
  • Bystanding players who may have been involved or bore witness to the incident
  • Social Department members involved in the incident and/or addressing it after the fact
  • The category of the incident
  • A description of the incident with details on what happened and what recommendations were made to prevent it in the future
  • The result of the incident leading to the notification, such as advice given or a new contract established

Notifications come in three levels of increasing severity: green, yellow and red, and are sometimes referred to as "strikes" in our documentation.

Green Notification
A green notification is light and may not even be linked to negative conduct. Green notifications let the Social Department know things about a given player tied to their behavior in the past, good or bad, which may help guide future decisions.

Green notifications help us track minor incidents or course-corrections so that we can identify troubling patterns of both those violating policy and those targeted by breach of conduct. Green notifications can help us head off larger problems hidden by the relatively minor specific incidents that make them up, as well as helping us identify players who may be carefully towing the line of our conduct policy without crossing over it formally.

Any time a Social department member speaks to you specifically about conduct, you should receive a Green notification. This is nothing to worry about and is as much to track the Social department member's activities as yours. It also lets other Social department members know when you've been informed of certain policies or asked to make small adjustments in your behavior so that you don't get bombarded with similar advice.

Green notifications do not have a limit at which they spill over into the next category up, although the Social department may still use a series of Green notifications about the same type of conduct violation to require a social contract or otherwise take action to remedy a troubling trend of minor infractions.

Yellow Notification
Yellow notifications indicate a player has clearly violated a Social policy or otherwise done harm to another player on the site. Yellow notifications should require immediate corrections in future behavior to avoid the same sort of harm reoccurring. Yellow notifications may also take longer to review and finalize given the severity they carry.

A Yellow notification awarded to a player who already has two Yellow notifications also results in an automatic Red notification and the associated suspension. This Red notification replaces the oldest Yellow notification the player has, so that when they return from suspension they will still potentially have two Yellow notifications and be in danger of further suspensions if they receive another one before the old ones expire.

A Yellow notification must always be approved by at least two members of the Social department before being finalized.

Yellow notifications expire one year after the date they were awarded, even if they were awarded after the incident itself occurred. This includes time spent while a player is suspended.

Red Notification
A Red notification is for grievous infractions of our conduct policies, and results in a temporary ban based on how many Red notifications the player has received in a given timeframe.

The first Red notification results in a 30-day suspension to protect other players from further infractions and to allow the player time to consider their actions and behavior should they wish to return to the site as a respectful player. Red notifications may also result in a mandatory Social contract drawn up upon the player's return specifying additional behaviors above and beyond our conduct policy that they must adhere to to remain on the site.

Red notifications require approval from both Social Leads before becoming finalized. If the department is in Starvation Mode or one of the Social Leads is involved in the incident, the department's non-Lead members should vote and a majority serve as the deciding factor.

Each subsequent Red notification results in a suspension three times as long as the previous one:

  1. 30 days (1 month)
  2. 90 days (3 months)
  3. 270 days (9 months)
  4. 810 days (over 2 years)

Red notifications DO NOT expire.

Instant bans and Perma-bans
In our most extreme cases, we may encounter a player who does significant damage to the site and its players in ways our conduct and harassment policies have not yet adapted to address.

For these outliers, we allow the site Leads to collectively call for a vote to instantly ban the player in question for whatever period of time seems reasonable. This vote must be unanimous among the Leads to carry, and a detailed accounting of the decision must be posted publicly to the forums within 12 hours of the ban being triggered. Other players wishing to levy a Grievance due to the triggering of an instant ban should follow the procedures for doing so.

Perma-bans also live outside the standard notification structure. Notifications are designed to encourage players to correct their behavior, not to punish. We want those who do harm to learn from their mistakes and return to us as players who contribute to the site like everyone else.

However, in some cases, the safety of our site's other members takes precedence over giving the violating player space to learn and grow. In these extreme cases, the Leads can call for a vote to perma-ban, which otherwise follows the same stipulations as an instant ban. It requires a unanimous vote, and a detailed accounting of the decision and what led to it must be posted publicly on the site forums within 12 hours of triggering the ban. Grievances can be levied as normal if anyone on the site feels the Leads acted in bad faith in awarding a perma-ban.

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Transfer of items or money between characters

Characters on different accounts can transfer money or items between them as long as both players agree in text to the transfer. These can be gifts or they can be trades/sales, but in the latter case we urge players to review the page on Calculating Item Worth if they want to price goods fairly for exchanges.

When a character dies, players can also specify a "last will and testament" for their items and money, even if they didn't draw one up ahead of time. As with living characters, item and money transfers have to be consensual and agreed-upon by the intended recipients.

When transferring money, only freely available silver can be transferred. Invested silver, economy levels and reputation cannot transfer. The same may be true for some "items" which represent boons or curses in game given to a specific character, but they should specify on the item whether or not they are transferrable.

To avoid anyone gaming character-to-character exchanges, a character cannot give money or items away without an equal exchange from the recipient when they are below 40 HXP. Below 40 HXP, they can still exchange money and items for an equivalent share according to the rules on Calculating Item Worth. This is true even if the character under 40 HXP dies before transferring items - the money or items exchanged to make the trade fair are effectively lost in the transfer.

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What to expect from RP here

Our format is a bit unique as far as online roleplaying goes.

In online chat RP, posts are generally very short and immediate. Here your average post may be a few paragraphs long and take 5-10 minutes to put together. That gives you space to not just dictate your character's actions, but to describe their motivations, their impressions of other characters in the scene, even delve into their thoughts where appropriate.

Posts are typically third-person, describing what the character is doing or feeling from the point of view of an outside narrator (you). Despite being third-person, our style is much more "act out" than simple narration, with dialog and actions described in full rather than in quick summaries like "I attack the bandit."

Casual RP is much more prevalent than sessions, meaning most of the time the action is on you to create. It might just be a simple chat in a bar, or a chance meeting in the forest, or even solo play as your character works on repairing a broken machine or studying a clue they gained from a session.

Progression is fairly slow even at the start, with many hours required to raise your character's Stats and skills, so expect your starting stats to be roughly where you're at for a while. Thankfully, it's easy for starting characters to succeed in their areas of focus, but if you're expecting to "level up" quickly, we don't want you to be surprised later.

Which is to say, our games require patience, initiative, and a decent amount of typing, so please be aware of that as you dive in. We're very flexible and we want to make this a fun place for you, too, but there's only so much we can do depending on what you're expecting.

Additionally, be aware that our settings are persistent worlds. That means that the sessions and sagas which happen, even just the casual RP can have a lasting and noticeable impact on the larger world. Nothing happens in a vacuum here, so it's good to be mindful of how your RP may impact others.

Lastly, know that the community is small, making us more familiar with one another than on massive message boards. The Leads of the various departments will often poll the site to get input on big changes, and you always have a voice in the overall way things run around here. If you ever feel too familiar with the other players to point out something that's bothering you, we have a number of anonymous methods for speaking up and making your voice heard any time. This site is yours just as much as it is ours.

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Mature Sexual Content, Romantic and Erotic Role Play Policy

Romatic relationship roleplay can be a blast! But consider it to be the icing on the cake rather than the main event. We suggest getting to know your RP partner really well before you attempt this style of RP. Just like a real life romantic relationships, being mature and being able to communicate are key components to a successful IC romance. Even if it’s a one night stand. There's a lot of trust that is placed on the other player, especially as most romance lead to ERP. This makes communication crucial at every step and helps prevent issues from arising.

ERP stands for Erotic Role Play. Which can vary from player to player. It can be anything from a romantic date to more graphic depictions of sexual contact. As a site we allow this sort of RP but there are rules about what is accepted and how it should be handled.

No ERP or Romantic RP is allowed for anyone under 18, or any characters who are under 18. Which means no extreme amounts of hugging, kissing, or dating, etc. It might seem extreme, but it’s important for the health and safety of the site. Not to mention it’s a tricky legal area so we ask that players avoid it entirely.

Alternately, no character may RP scenes of a sexual nature with an NPC who is not 18 years or older. This is a hard line area (similar to ERP with a player who is under 18), and any infractions of this rule can lead to losing your account and your character.

In regards to where ERP can take place there are a few things to remember. In the past romantic RP was usually very limited in description but it could occur in any location. We now have rooms that are private or mature. If the content of your RP with your partner is something that a movie would classify as an R or 18+, it should occur in a room that not anyone can accidentally stumble upon. Part of why we ask players to provide an age is so that we can protect them from seeing content that they shouldn't. Therefore if you want to RP something graphic please use an appropriate location.

Never coerce another player into ERP. Just as in real life, it should always be something that both (or all) parties agree on. If you ever feel forced into ERP, contact one of the social leads and they will help you. If the social lead is the one at fault, contact any other lead and they will help you. You should never feel forced to play in this way. Any player that is caught forcing another into roleplaying a romantic relationship or scenes of a sexual nature will find themselves facing Social Department policy.

Depictions of non-consensual sexual contact are not commonly touched upon. However, this is something that some players may choose to have in their backstories. When introducing it in RP we ask for players to use tact and discretion. Sexual violence is not sex. It is violence. Please ask your RP partners in advance if they are comfortable with the topic coming up as your backstory (even if only mentioned briefly), and then be very limited in the details. If they say they aren’t comfortable and then a player still chooses to discuss that, the social department will become involved. Remember, it is a trigger for many players, and the goal on Vaxia is to have fun. That cannot occur for many players if they are afraid that sexually violent content will be included in their playtime.

Actual Non-consent during RP is strictly forbidden here. If a player's character attempts to assault another character they will not only find themselves suspended, they will likely find their account and/or their character taken away. This site should be a safe place and no one should have to be afraid of that sort of RP happening to them. (This is also the case with forced PvP, but that’s something to touch on elsewhere)

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Mediation Department

The Mediation Department
Mediators are a specifically trained group of players who are responsible for helping to diffuse conflicts onsite and mediate between players. It is a department that is under the social umbrella. Once you have passed the social exam and the Mediator Training Program you will be trained to assist in the conflicts here on Vaxia. There will still be conflicts that have to be mediated by leads. However some of the time you may be tasked with overseeing a mediation yourself. There will always be at least one other lead involved to sure that the mediation stays on track, but as a mediator you will be guiding the dialogue as the primary voice of neutrality.

One of the primary jobs of the mediators is to help prevent small IC or OOC outbursts from becoming bigger ones. They are also able to help by assisting with OOC problems between players through encouraging dialogue and discussion, while they maintain a presence as a neutral third party to keep things civil.

It is important to note that if you are part of this group, you will need to conduct your own behavior accordingly. If you are engaged in a conflict with another player, you may find that you are temporarily unable to mediate for others. If you receive a strike, you will be unable to become a Mediator for several months. It is unlikely that this will happen but there is a chance that you may receive a lot of flack for stepping in to mediate. Players may not appreciate what you are asking them to do, and they may respond harshly. If they do, they will face repercussions for their actions. But they may be reflexively rude or hurtful to you as a Mediator.

If you see a conflict beginning and feel as though it may spiral, keep close track of it, and make sure that you step in when necessary to prevent it from boiling over. Often times a gentle nudge to a more pleasant topic is all that it takes. Sometimes though no amount of persuasion will be enough. In those situations you may need to involve another mediator or a lead to assist you. As a trained mediator you are one of the few people on site that are actually qualified to step into the mediator role. Asking other site members to stop harmful behavior is fine for anyone to do. But when it starts to border on mediation territory it is a problem if they have not been trained in the various ways to handle conflicts amicably. If someone not trained in mediation begins to impersonate a mediator, stop them immediately. That is a strikeable action if it occurs more than once (after a warning the first time).

There may also come times where a conflict is too much for you to handle. There is absolutely no problem in stepping back and saying that you cannot handle a case you have been given. After all, your mental health and well being as a mediator and player is just as important as those who you are mediating for. You should never feel like you are “forced” to help. Tagging out is preferred rather than causing yourself distress. In this case, contact one of the Social Department Leads (preferably the one in the mediation with you already) and they will take over. If they are not already involved, make sure you take notes or link to any relevant mediation you have done to make it easier on the person who takes up the mediation. This will help everyone involved.

Before you take the test, it is important to very carefully analyze yourself and your behaviors to see if you would be right for this position. If you find yourself easily annoyed, hurt, stressed by other players actions, or quick to anger, you may not want to put yourself in the position of mediator. This is an optional position. You can decline or step aside at any time. However, if you are part of the program, you will be expected to help when you can.

It is important to note that unlike the other tests on the site, the Mediation test is an essay test. Much like our SH test. The reason behind this is because conflicts rarely have clear A,B,C, or D answers. There is a subtle hand at play in working on mediation, and so the test needs to show that accordingly. Your test will be graded by the other mediators. You will need at least a 3/4ths majority in order to become a mediator. You can take the test again if you don't pass the first time, but please take into consideration any notes you are given by the Evaluators before attempting to retake the test.

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Vaxia Helpers

The Vaxia Helper System
Vaxia Helpers are a specific subset of the Social Department In order to become a vaxia helper, you must pass the social department membership training and the vaxia helper training. Access to this position is not dependent on any other earned rank ­ only on passing the relevant tests.

Once you have completed the training you will be responsible for directly assisting members of the site. This will include, but is not limited to:

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  • Helping players find the relevant links that they need, and assisting them with their questions about site navigation in general.

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  • Taking the time and helping them with RP in order to get them used to the flow of the game. A Helper should encourage them to make descriptive and complete posts, and teach them all about the social etiquette when RPing. Most often this will be done either in Limbo the discussion room, via private messages, or in the OOC box at the bottoms of your posts. Some General Guidelines can be found here: http://vaxia.org/forums/tips-how-rp-considerately

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  • Directly working with players to teach them about how to make characters. Sometimes a player will make characters that consistently fall outside of the normal build guidelines. When this happens, a newbie helper is assigned to train them to help make their characters fit into the game world.

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  • Assisting players when they arrive with any training they might need as far as getting used to the site and the way it works. Either through direct messages in limbo or private messages.

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  • Teaching new players about the policies on vaxia and how the site is run. One of these things is managing expectations http://vaxia.org/forums/managing-expectations-ie-what-expect-your-time-here. Try to guide them into understanding the time line of the game. It's a game that moves at a nice slow pace, so if they need something faster, you may need to work with them on getting used to the way things are here.

  • If they have a question that you can't answer, try and get help from another Helper. You don't have to be an encyclopedia to be a Vaxia Helper. You just have to be willing to take the time to help others.

As a Vaxia Helper you will find yourself in charge of really working with new players one on one. It's a great opportunity to help someone see the best parts of the game through your eyes. Use your experience on the site to help their learning process be easier. The Vaxia Helpers are a very valuable group. However it is not mandatory to be part of the Vaxia Helpers. If you don't think you have the patience or the knowledge to help new players, then don't feel like you have to take the test. If you decide to join, you will be responsible for working when you can, so take that time commitment to heart before you make your decision. You can at any point decline your position in the Vaxia Helpers. There is no problem with leaving the department even once you've gone through the training.

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Narrating Gritty Subject Matter

It's naturally and a very good thing to want your narratives in a session to evoke an emotional response in your players, whether it's the rise after a victory, laughter, fear for their characters' health and well-being, etc. As a result, it's natural that we'll describe certain elements or include elements in sessions that create that emotional response in most people.

But we also need to be aware of when that response goes too far and moves into territory that can cause real-life harm.

You may already be aware of the notion of "triggers," but if you're not, and to make sure we're all on the same page, a "trigger" is something which causes an involuntary psychological (sometimes veering into physical) response in the reader. Typically, this comes from people who have been victims of or close to victims of similar situations in real life. Explicit descriptions and even strong implications of the same behavior in an A/SH's narrative can trigger an individual in a very negative way.

One example is going into graphic detail of the combat in a session, describing in details the effects of, say, an automatic rifle on an unarmored target. While it may fit the session, if one of the folks attending happens to be a real-life combat veteran, it may trigger a response based on uncomfortable or horrific memories of actual events.

You will never know going in every situation that might be triggering, but there are some common triggers that we can use to alert folks coming to a session of what will be referenced before they sign up. You'll find checkboxes for the following when you create an Event for your sessions, and should make use of them where appropriate:

  • Spiders and/or Snakes (can trigger an atavistic response in the reader)
  • Mind control (or other forced loss of consent)
  • Graphic violence (graphic and in-depth descriptions of violence, unnecessarily violent actions)
  • Sexual violence (rape, threat of rape, genital mutilation)
  • Graphic dead-stuff (graphic descriptions of corpses, body parts)

In addition to warning folks in advance of possible triggers within a session, it's also a good rule to never explicitly describe what you can just as easily allude to or reference in a broad sense. Saying "the battle is horrific" is often enough to evoke the same emotional response without having to detail and outline specific scenes within the fight that reinforce the point. The former is far less likely to be triggering because it's so much more broad and general, but it still gets the point across.

If the details are only there to evoke a response, rather than being useful to session participants to decide their own actions, it's generally safer to leave them out. You don't need to completely censor yourself if you've flagged the appropriate triggers in the Event itself, but even for folks who aren't triggered, certain descriptions can be uncomfortable when they're unnecessary, and would be better off avoided.

If you're ever unsure whether a scene is going too far, err on the safe side. If you know the scene is coming during your session planning, ask another A/SH or a member of the Social Department to get a second opinion before hosting the session, if you're worried it might be going too far.

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Diagram of an RP post

A good RP post consists of, at minimum, 3 parts, typically in this order:

Acknowledge
Reference the action around you: what others are saying, what others are doing, their apparent mood. In a session, it’s the action - who’s in trouble, how your enemy is faring, etc. This acknowledgement shows that you read the posts of others and are using the same world to build your own character’s reaction.

React
React, internally or externally (thought vs. spoken), to the world you acknowledged. Describe how it impacts your character’s mood, their thoughts. Talk about their plans for a response to the situation and the rationale for their choices. This is typically just a clue to the other players, the other characters may have no idea what the PC’s reaction is, but it gives the other players insight into who your character is and how the interaction really affects them, even if they don’t outwardly portray the same thing.

Respond
Describe the character’s action, whether it’s replying to someone in dialog or taking physical action. Give the other players something to acknowledge. Something happens outwardly, even if it isn’t much. If you’re standing in the corner watching a scene, describe the facial expression changing in response to the others and their actions. Posture shifts - anything that gives their characters a clue that you see them and are being affected by them.

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