Role Playing and Gamemasters
In the course of playing your Avatar character, you will be presented with many situations where your role playing skills will be challenged. You will need to make decisions as your character would make them, and you need to leverage your physical abilities with your mental judgment. That would be difficult enough if we left you and the rest of the Avatars alone. But Double Exposure also maintains a staff of gamemasters whose job it is to challenge you even further.
Avatars are constantly being watched and their actions are rewarded as consistently as possible. Gamemasters also have the job of rewarding players who role play very well and continually contribute to the Avatar System. Gamemasters are considered to be the Nexus itself for the purposes of decision making, and any judgment of a gamemaster is final, at least to resolve whatever the current problem is. After that problem has been resolved, Double Exposure may reverse a decision or rule that future decisions of that type should be treated differently, but under no circumstances should a gamemaster be questioned during the action which prompted his intervention.
Some Avatars in the game are known as "Assistant Gamemasters", and have the task of moving certain sections of the game along without the need for fully impartial entities. They should be respected as much as any full gamemaster in the area with which they have been entrusted.
As an Avatar, you are considered to ALWAYS be in the Nexus, whether you are at a Double Exposure event, another gaming event, or anywhere else in the world. The system is designed so that it can be consistently played anywhere, even online! There are two exceptions to this rule. First, any Avatar who is Journeying (involved in a sanctioned role playing game) is considered to be outside of the Nexus for that period of time and cannot return to interact until the Journey is over. Second, every Avatar has access to a button with the symbol of his house (called a "House Button"), and it is necessary to wear this button at all times when the Avatar is playing his character. Whenever a player removes his button, he is considered to be "Out of Character", and is not only incapable of taking any action in the Nexus, but indeed should not even be communicating with anyone else who is "In Character". The following points explain exactly how House Buttons work:
1) There is one definitive identification of whether or not you are in character, and that it that you are wearing your House button. If a player is NOT wearing a proper House button (or in the case of a button shortage, something official from a GM which is to be counted instead of a button), HE IS NOT IN CHARACTER, PERIOD. If he is wearing a button, HE IS IN CHARACTER. If he is wearing a button but has his hand or something else (other than a layer of clothing) obscuring the button, HE IS IN CHARACTER.
2) If a player is in a territory or domain AND is wearing a button, he will need TWO other players to vouch for him that he is indeed not in an area of Proper where other characters can interact with him (unless they are in the same territory or domain, of course). This means simply that if an Avatar is alone in a territory, or even if he is with ONE additional person, he SHOULD have his button off. It should be assumed that if two players are involved in a one-on-one session in this manner, they are considered to be IC to each other (ONLY).
3) An Avatar is free to go in and out of character as many times as he wants with no time limits as long as he is alone. In other words, as long as he is not involved in anything game-related, he is free to step outside a room and in privacy, take off his button. He is also free to put on his button at any time while he is alone, placing him instantly in character for when he meets another player.
4) If an Avatar needs to go out of character while he is NOT in privacy for whatever reason, he MUST announce verbally that he is going OOC. At that point, he MUST count to 10 (slowly and quietly) and then remove his button. If anyone has a reason why he should not go OOC at that particular moment, HE MAY NOT REMOVE HIS BUTTON until whatever interaction that player needs is taken care of. If he believes that someone is going to intentionally take advantage of him during this 10 second count, then he should leave the room and take his button off in privacy. Note that the "Hide in Shadows" Skill is the only exception to this rule.
5) If an Avatar needs to go in character while he is NOT in privacy for whatever reason, he MUST announce verbally that he is going IC. At that point, anyone else who is in the area in which he announced this has the opportunity to announce that they are going OOC IMMEDIATELY. Nobody else in the room or logical area may interfere with them (in contradiction to point 4). Two notes: One, if an Avatar wishes to avoid the possibility of someone getting a free OOC swap in this manner, then he should leave the room and put his button on in privacy. Two, if there is any obvious IC interaction going on in the room or logical area an Avatar is in (such as a combat, or an obviously IC meeting), he IS NOT ALLOWED TO JUST POP INTO CHARACTER. Again, if he wishes to go IC, he should leave the room or logical area, put his button on in privacy, and walk back in.
6) Anyone caught violating these rules by either A) One GM or one Assistant GM, or B) three or more players will be penalized as follows: First offense during an event - The player will not earn any more than the base EP given for the event. Second offense during an event - The player will not earn ANY EP from the event. Third offense or more during an event - The player will LOSE a complete level, regardless of the amount of EP he has.
The basic concept of the Nexus is that you can do whatever you want while role playing, as long as you do not affect anything mechanic-related. Generally, you can achieve any effect you want as long as it is accepted and not challenged, AND you can come up with a good in-character reason why you would be able to produce that effect - for example, although meaningless to other characters, a Terran Avatar would NOT be able to just freeze ice for a drink, while a Fantasy Avatar with Elemental Effect would be able to do just that.
An example of role playing infringing on game mechanics: An Avatar builds a machine which produces 3' tall pink elephants which whine constantly. The Nexus can be filled with these, and the person who is responsible for it can explain to everyone that the noise of the whining elephants is drowning out all conversation. As long as this continues to be accepted as a role playing element, everyone has a good time with it. However, another person comes along and attempts to use an item with a verbal component, and Mr. Elephant person says "You can't use that, because the elephants are drowning you out". Suddenly, that has crossed the line, because a role playing prop with no substance is going up against a written game mechanic. It is, however, up to the person who wants to use the item whether or not to go along with it or to defy the whining elephants and use his item anyway.
Although the main focus of the Avatar System has always been during live events and conventions, the continued advances of the Internet have created many opportunities for continued character development between events. Obviously, all Avatars can role play as easily online as they do in person, but sometimes game mechanics suffer from a lack of face-to-face encounters and freely available game masters. Therefore, some select rules have notes attached to them for how timing and other effects should be treated while using the Avatar System online. However, unless specifically stated otherwise, all effects in the game work in the same timeframe outside of events as they do during events.
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© 2005 by Double Exposure, Inc. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this text may be reprinted or used in any manner other than for the purposes of participating in the Avatar System 2.6 as managed by Double Exposure, Inc.