... now with 35% more arrogance!

Monday, August 15, 2011

On-Line Gaming and Portability

The big news from the weekend is that Zak of Playing D&D With Porn Stars and several others (Jeff Rients, Calithena, etc.) are now promoting something called the FLAILSNAILS conventions. I'm looking them over, but I'm not planning immediate adoption, mainly because I'm not going to be involved in ConstantCon/Google+ online gaming in the near future. Why? Partly because I don't currently have a webcam or a mic, but mainly because my current situation is such that I can never be sure when I will have computer access, or for how long, or when I will be interrupted. Sure, I know i will get a couple hours of computer time every day, pretty much; but everything else is unreliable, so I make no commitments.

But I hope this changes at some point, and if so, I'm certainly interested in a group agreement that encourages character transportability between "DIY games", as Zak calls them. Presumably, this is meant to be an agreement between a GM and prospective players, not a pact between the participating GMs. I think I'll try to summarize the conventions here, since it will help me understand them, and I'll raise a few questions afterwards; the signatories can chime in if they think I'm interpreting this correctly or not.

Article I: You can bring a character from any compatible game into FLAILSNAILS-compliant games if it meets basic requirements.

Article II: Compatibility is negotiable; the farther it is from TSR D&D or its retro-clones, the more conversion a character may require to be FLAILSNAILS-compliant.

Article III: Level is guaranteed; you keep all the levels you earn. Experience is interpreted relative to level. Article III shows you how.

Article IV: If you want to play in a game rated for a lower level than your character, you get to keep your levels (per Article III,) but agree to accept a temporary handicap if the GM requires it.

Article V: You keep most spells, powers and magic items, too, but they may work radically differently. The GM can make some stuff forbidden, but must warn everyone in advance.

Article VI: GMs may use the "same" one-of-a-kind item in different ways, so they can make up a temporary explanation for any paradoxes.

Article VII: Pretty straightforward: GMs agree to identify ConstantCon games as FLAILSNAILS-complaint or not when announcing the game.

Article VIII: Characters just show up in one game or another, no explanation necessary.

Article IX: Dead character is dead in all FLAILSNAILS-compliant campaigns. No automatic level up or power up in a multi-session adventure just because you used your character in another game between sessions. Oterwise, it's your character's timeline, do what you want.

Article X: Promises a future website.

Article XI: Blog posts for Individual GM conversion notes are a good idea.

The questions I have are about character abilities that are outside the target system. Article II implies that a GM can ignore or alter things like skills, feats, miscellaneous non-class powers, or even class abilities as part of the conversion process. Article V suggest to the contrary that nothing should be dropped unless the GM warns everyone in advance. So, for example, if you have an AD&D druid who can shape change and you move to a game with no druids, or druids who don't shape change, is a FLAILSNAILS-compliant GM guaranteeing that you will have *something* equivalent to that out-of-range power, but maybe not as reliable or strong, or does the guarantee only apply to level, ability scores, and basic class function? Similarly, is the GM guaranteeing hit points are transferable?

For the record, my thoughts on any eventual G+ game (in the Nine and Thirty Kingdoms setting, of course,) is that I'd honor level, experience points, coins, and mundane acquisitions without question, and high/low rating of ability scores, but otherwise wouldn't guarantee any specific numbers for any abilities or equipment your character may have, including things like "regenerate 5d6 hit points every round" or "shape change 3 times/day". I'd try to preserve the feel of the character, but wouldn't guarantee the mechanics.


  1. Bless you. I was going to do the exact same thing. I understood every article but my work addled brain was having a hard time remembering all the separate points.

  2. You're welcome! Summarizing it also helps me understand how the different articles work together.