The Gaming Philosophy
We want you to experience Mystic Realms® LIVE-ACTION!™. We have nothing against computer RPGs, we like roleplaying around a table-top with a game master, but we love to experience the thrill of really being there and we’d like for you to give LIVE-ACTION!™ a try. But first, let’s talk a little about what makes Mystic Realms® special. It’s our philosophy . . . the way we approach live-action roleplaying that makes us unique. We have reasons for doing things the way we do, but they aren't always obvious. Some of the things that make us unique may not even look like good ideas at first, but read on. Like I said, we have reasons for doing things the Mystic Realms® way and we like to think they're good reasons. See if you agree . . .
Sharing the Labor
Members of troupes work together to put on Mystic Realms® LIVE-ACTION!™ events. It is not easy to run a live_action roleplaying game. The larger the troupe the more work is involved. A troupe must rely on the efforts of all participants. Everyone must share the work and responsibility for creating a good . . .GREAT event. Participants volunteer their time to maintain the troupe and host events. The key to success in Mystic Realms® is teamwork, cooperation and good communication.
All participants must work together to put on the show, because one person can't do it all. Freeloaders should be asked to leave. Someone once said, “A Mystic Realms® event is not like a gas station; you cannot just pull in and fill up on fun.” You’ve got to contribute to the roleplaying environment. Whenever you offer the effort to perform a really cool ritual, every time you invoke your magic with a fanciful flourish you are bringing the world alive for yourself and those around you. Standing around doing nothing (except being bored) at an event is the greatest disservice you can do to the troupe and yourself.
Like any other worthwhile endeavor, you’ll get out of Mystic Realms® what you put into it. Be a part of the team, make your club great! Mystic Realms® provides the rules and the tools, you’ve got to build the troupe.
Rewards for Service
Participants who serve their troupe in administrative or cast functions will receive a service award that allows their character to learn new skills. We won’t lie to you, in Mystic Realms® the quickest way to learn new skills for your character is through service to the organization. Clubs cannot exist without volunteer efforts, so the Mystic Realms® Service Policy rewards those who labor for the common good.
"Mystic Realms® is a game, right? So how can I win?" asked a first time player. We explained: Mystic Realms® may be a game, but it's certainly not about winning or losing, and its definitely not about gathering power or subjugating others. Mystic Realms® is about developing a character's personality, which is generally different from the player’s personality. It's about the trials and tribulations of the character's life. It's about learning to work together to overcome adversity and hardship through cooperation and teamwork. It's about the love and laughter, the pain and sorrow, and the things that bring the magical world to life. And finally, it's about the friendships and the relationships your character will forge both in_game and out_of_game as he or she makes their way through life.
You will create your player characters within certain guidelines as determined by the realm of play (e.g., Glory of Guildhall™ characters must belong to or join Guildhall™; Characters in Aberrant Earth cannot start out knowing magic). You own your character, and no one can take it away from you (unless you break out of game rules by cheating, hurting others, etc.). It's hard to lose your character in Mystic Realms, and that's deliberate. Players put too much time and money into a character's costume, props, and personality to have it all taken away by a run of bad luck. Games that include permanent death or a limited number of lives unintentionally provide a strong incentive for players to cheat or at least fudge a bit to prevent losing the characters they've put so much into.
The Most Fun for the Most People
This rules philosophy would seem obvious, but it's surprising how easily it can be forgotten. We believe an ideal live-action roleplaying event entertains as many players as possible, provides a reasonable challenge to both experienced adventuring groups and bands of first_timers and treats all players fairly. Adventures designed for the benefit of one player or group aren't fun for (or even seen by) anyone else. All Mystic Realms® events have a format that maximizes entertainment for everyone. The best events follow this format, but obfuscate its nature through good roleplaying, challenging combat and contingency scripting.
Writers with the best of intentions can unintentionally write scenes that cause more frustration than fun. Since everyone wants only fun, Mystic Realms® has created the Writers Guild to ensure all writers have at least a basic understand of the Mystic Realms® writing system. (Which we admit is very different from anything else in existence). There are lots of ways to LARP, but LARPing in the Mystic Realm multi-verse is unique and anyone writing in an official game must receive training and approval by the Writers Guild.
Writing exciting new adventures while keeping the encounters fair and the storylines consistent in a shared universe of hundreds of writers isn't nearly as easy as it sounds. We have created a writing system that allows for anyone to write in our shared game world. There are a fair number of rules one has to follow, but learning the rules is a small price to pay for great events in a consistent game world.
In Mystic Realms, mentors train new writers to create and run adventure that support existing story lines. New writers will learn to entertain the maximum number of players with the minimum of cast by following established formats. They will also learn how to gauge the difficulty presented by traps, puzzles and monsters and to create a challenging, but not overwhelming, interactive adventure.
At higher levels in the Guild, writers will learn how to create their own story lines in the shared world without un_writing what has come before. Writers learn to expand the personalities and histories of the realms without invalidating the work of others. In the Mystic Realms® system writers can write continuing storylines without fear that another writer will affect their plot, but it also allows for the interaction of stories if writers agree beforehand.
Most of all, the Guild teaches writers to write only for the motivation of the cast and not to write from the perspective of player character action. This subtle point allows maximum player character freedom in the world as the writing does not limit player action by detailing a limited number of accepted player responses. Instead, writers are taught to create “real” characters with motivations and goals so the cast member playing the character can react to any player course of action.
Player Controlled Community
The cast does not directly control the player community. Player characters hold all community positions. Want to run the town? Run for mayor, magistrate, or master of your guild. Go ahead . In the Mystic Realms® system the in_game positions of power are entirely filled by player characters, not cast members. Mystic Realms® games do not place "trusted" cast members in community leadership positions, because our experience teaches this limits player character freedom and spontaneity. Instead, cast members play the people in the outside world and the community belongs to the player characters. Cast members provide the options through their roleplaying, but the Mystic Realms® philosophy demands that players be in a position that gives them the ability to decide their community’s course of action.
Cast and Players Use The Same Rules
This may also seem like a self-evident truth, but we’ve all been to those games where the cast seems to be using a different rules set with special skills. In Mystic Realms® no matter how big or bad the cast character seems to be he is playing by the same rules you are. You can look up a master necromancer or a giant spider in the rules, and you will never encounter one with "special powers" not in the book (no matter how cool the writer thought it was). And cast characters don't get to cheat just because they're important to the plot, either. If you manage to bag the main bad guy two seconds after he hits town, then he is well and truly bagged. More power to you. The rest of the major cast characters have sufficient motivations and goals to react on their own, and they will.
No One Is Untouchable; No One Is Useless
At Mystic Realms® we strive to welcome new participants and our rules are specifically written to include them in a way that give new characters everything they need to be effective. First_time characters aren't as powerful as masters, but they're far from helpless. Every beginner has something to offer even the oldest characters, and heraldic orders, religions, and adventuring groups are always looking to recruit from the newly_arrived. Beginners won't be stepped on because they're not "big" enough.
Likewise, there are no "newbie_eating monsters". Some creatures are immune to some things, but nothing's immune to everything. A first_rank character with a club can at least hurt most creatures, and a party of first_timers with some minor magic can provide a group thumping that will take down anything met on the trail. Teamwork is more effective than level or enchantments.
No Game Masters
Every scene in Mystic Realms® is as it appears. When dealing with game the environment “What you see is what you get” (We call it W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G. . . Mystic Realms® is a W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G. system). There is no one around to interpret events for you, or to tell you what you really see. If you spot someone hiding in the bushes, you actually see him, and you know your club hit him when you hear it “thwack!” against his body.
We believe using out_of_game narrators to describe scenes is a poor idea, because it intrudes on the in-game nature of the experience and requires an interruption in roleplaying. Mystic Realms® wants to keep everything in-game and the dork telling you “The bad guy's huge stone castle lies before you and its full of goblins who want to eat your hearts” only serves to distract the moment on most occasions. W.Y.S.I.W.Y.G. is better! Mystic Realms® ditches the dork and lets the scene stand for itself. If we want a castle we’ll build it (and we have) otherwise the bad guy and his goblin goons are standing in a clearing of trees.
If we think its important enough to change the game environment we will use a few decorations to make the environment more like we want it. Sometimes we’ll hang up a sign or two near the play area to ensure people understand what the decorations mean. Finally, we accept that some places are not suitable for certain kinds of events. You can’t run a fantasy game in a parking lot full of cars and pretend they are dragons (don’t laugh some people do!). Mystic Realms® would run a Modern Era game in the parking lot and save the fantasy game for the local park.
No Interruption in Play
We use the words "CEASE GAME!" as an emergency stop for serious injuries or dangerous safety concerns only. Otherwise, we don't stop the game until the event is over. In the Mystic Realm system there are no out-of-game skill accounting sessions or tag exchanges.
There are no "cool" powers that make everyone stop while you explain how they work. A “cool” skill for one person simply isn't acceptable if it leads to stops and rules explanations for all the players around him. A fireball with a 10 foot radius burst is a staple of fantasy RPGs everywhere, but how can you simulate it in live action without making everyone freeze and checking who's hit with a tape measure? How can you have someone moving really fast without telling everyone else to move really slow? How can you make illusions if you have to explain to everyone what they're supposed to be seeing?
That said, the Mystic Realms® system is no slough when it comes to skills. We push the boundaries of what can be done in a live-action roleplaying game further than anyone without the out-of-game confusion. We can represent all sorts of powers and abilities in ways that do not interrupt play. Our characters can adhere to walls, fly, leap, shoot strands of web, cast fire balls, create fire barriers and many more things, but every skill functions in a seamless manner that does not interrupt play or cause confusion.
It's possible, even common, to go through an entire Mystic Realms® event without ever stopping play or having a rules disagreement. This is partly because the rules don't require discussions and partly because of the honor system. We trust our players to know their character skills and use them fairly. Cheaters and skill abusers are simply removed.
Once something has happened, it's happened. Even if it was a mistake. Even if later rules_checking shows it wasn't supposed to work that way. Take_backs are disorienting and stop the game flow. Even a simple redo can result in a half_hour argument about what really happened, and what other characters would have done.
We have a limited amount of time to enjoy the game, and arguing about what should have happened isn't fun for anyone. Maybe it never should have happened that way... But it did. Game on. That said, our players know that ANYTHING in Mystic Realms® that deals with the rules can be fixed with a scratch of the pen.
The worst thing that can happen to a character is that they can become a spirit and that is fixed with a spiritquest which return the character’s physical form. Game administrators have the power to adjust the spiritquest percentages to rectify an unfair situation. Nothings changed in the game, the character still died, but his return is facilitated to rectify the error. No harm, no fuss!
Limits on Player Crimes
Player-versus-player crimes are generally discouraged in the Mystic Realms® system. Some troupes will forbid player-versus-player crimes completely. This may sound limiting, but we've found that the alternative is far worse. A few troupes have run one-shot player-versus-player “War” events, but long term player-versus-player campaigns are not conducive to the Mystic Realms® style of play.
Creating good LIVE-ACTION!™ events require people to cooperate out-of-game and if their characters are killing each other in-game this generally doesn’t make for a positive working environment. The problem with player_versus_player conflict is that although it can add some interest to the game, it often gets out of hand and creates hard feelings between participants.
Players can't go out and adventure when they're afraid of being jumped by other players on the way back. New players can't approach a group of strangers when they're afraid of being killed for their starting money. And finally, players can't be their own person if they have to join ever bigger packs of goons just to survive the night. Eventually, this situation degenerates into a few large armed camps glaring at each other and posturing. This isn't fun for anyone and destroys the cooperative nature of Mystic Realms® event management which requires participants to run events for each other.
Professionalism Without Politics
All participants are encouraged to cooperate in a professional manner. There is no place in Mystic Realms® for politics or cliques; there is only one goal . . .to produce live action events that will entertain everyone. Mystic Realms® encourages participants to stay friends, because there is no point in playing a game with people you hate.
Any large organization full of willful, independent people is going to generate friction from time to time, but that's not the same thing as organizational politics. Communication is important. People need to confront each other in a positive manner. Perceived inequities will always exist, but so long as people communicate, the perceived inequities will be resolved and almost always be revealed as simple misunderstandings or unintentional slights.
Troupe management positions are open to anyone willing to commit to the work. In our clubs, every position from president on down has changed hands at least once a year and without politics or backstabbing. The day that changes is the day we all admit we've failed.