Risk

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Contents

Consent

A "consent-based" game is one in which players must consent to all changes to their characters, and can avoid such changes by withdrawing that consent, regardless of circumstances.

City of Hope is not a consent-based game. While conflict between PCs is not the primary focus of the game, it plays a significant role. Consent is taken into account, but its scope is limited.

Normally, the severity and duration of changes is limited by the risk system (+policy risk). Within reason, players can agree on an outcome that they all accept (+policy hand waving), including "fade to black" (FTB).

By choosing to play here, all players automatically consent to changes to their characters that would reasonably occur in response to their own actions ("IC actions = IC consequences" or ICA=ICC). This is subject to staff review, and requires a clear and convincing argument.

Risk

On many MUs, it is not uncommon to be killed, maimed, permanently altered, or otherwise taken out of play for what amounts to no good reason. Maybe someone's having a bad day and the polka dots on your socks are the final straw. While staff agrees that this is a World of Darkness and bad things happen to good people for no reason all the time, that kind of 'realism' shouldn't detract from the fun of the game.

The risk system is intended to limit the level at which a player can be made to suffer for things they didn't initiate. Players assign themselves a Risk Level which represents the level of permanent effects they consent to and limits the level of permanent effects they can inflict upon others. Those effects outside a player's Risk Level are cinematic: the player accepts them for the duration of the scene (or potentially longer) but is not stuck with them when the appropriate duration has elapsed.

The system's focus is combat and direct conflict. A player's risk level can protect them when attacked or when they come under the force of another's will. A player's risk level will not protect them from the reasonable consequences of reckless actions: disclosing others' secrets, breaking sect laws, sabotage, etc. You shouldn't have to worry about roving bands of PK maniacs; you should worry about how your own actions may come back to haunt you.

Risk System

City of Hope MUSH uses a novel Risk System to allow players to control their exposure to risk of permanent changes to their character.

There are two types of ramifications in the Risk System: Real and Cinematic.

  • Real effects are exactly how they sound. They make actual changes to the character(s).
  • Cinematic effects last for the scene, then afterward only as long as the player wishes to RP them out.

The distinction is key to understanding the implications of each Risk Level.

At the Lowest level of risk characters are permanently affected at their own discretion and likewise the permanent effects they cause are at the discretion of the recipient. This is not the same as fair-escape and doesn't mean a player can refuse effects placed on them fairly. This is explained in greater detail starting with the risk 0 policy page.

At the Highest level of risk players automatically consent to potentially severe, and permanent changes to their character(s) from other high-risk characters, including death.

When two players RP, they automatically accept the permanent effects as determined by the lower of their risk levels.

NOTE: Some locations make the character(s) a certain risk level just by their presence. Such locations will always provide an obvious warning in the desc of the room.

The Risk system provides rules about what actions players consent to automatically and how that's communicated to other players.

Risk 0

At risk level 0:

  • Your character can be subject to unwanted situations, but effects are cinematic.
  • During the scene:
    • If you want to reduce changes, you can unilaterally hand wave it.
    • If you want to avoid changes entirely, the other players must agree.
  • At any time after the scene, if you don't want to RP changes any more, you can unilaterally hand wave that they go away.

Players can still accept any permanent effects they consent to for any duration.

Resolving Risk 0 conflicts may require hand waving the details of how/why a change was reduced or avoided.

Continued in: Risk 1
See Also: Hand Waving

Risk 1

At risk level 1:

  • Your character can be subject to unwanted situations, but effects are cinematic.
  • During the scene:
    • If you need to reduce changes to justify them going away later (e.g. you would otherwise be killed), you can unilaterally hand wave it.
    • If you want to reduce or avoid changes otherwise, the other players must agree.
    • You automatically consent to being imprisoned and/or incapacitated for the duration of the scene.
  • At any time after the scene, if you don't want to RP changes any more, you can unilaterally hand wave that they go away.

Players can still accept any permanent effects they consent to for any duration.

Resolving Risk 1 conflicts may require hand waving the details of how/why a change was reduced or avoided.

Continued in: Risk 2
See Also: Hand Waving

Risk 2

At risk level 2:

  • Effects are real, not cinematic.
  • You automatically consent to all permanent effects, except death or being taken out of RP for more than a week.
  • Players can agree to hand wave reduced or avoided effects as usual.

Players can still participate in anything they consent to for any duration.

Returning to RP after being taken out of it may require hand waving the details of how/why the return is possible.

Continued in: Risk 3
See Also: Hand Waving

Risk 3

At risk level 3:

  • Effects are real, not cinematic.
  • You automatically consent to all permanent effects, including death or being taken out of RP indefinitely.
  • After being taken out of RP for one month, you're entitled to have your character either released or declared permanently unplayable.
  • Players can agree to hand wave reduced or avoided effects as usual.

Even at risk level 3, players are still protected by '+policy PTMD'.

Changing Risk

Players can change their character's Risk Level anytime they're not in combat. Once combat begins a character's Risk Level can't be changed by anyone. Damage, wounds, and other long-lasting effects gained at a certain Risk Level do not become cinematic when the player sets their character(s) to a lower Risk Level.

Risk Zones

A Risk Zone is a location that forces some or all characters present to be at a specific risk level for the purpose of protecting that location.

  • "Risk 0 zone" is interpreted as a maximum. (If two risk 3 players are in a risk 0 zone, they're risk 0. The owner don't want no trouble in his place.)
  • Anything else is interpreted as a minimum, unless otherwise specified. (If two risk 3 players are in a risk 2 zone, they're still risk 3.)

Because a Risk Zone forces a character(s) to be at a specific risk level Risk Zones are only established by staff. When a Risk Zone is requested staff will evaluate the request, determine who it will apply to, and ensure that the risk level is properly indicated. Characters who enter a Risk Zone who do not want to be at that risk level should leave immediately. Characters can't be forced into any Risk Zone no matter what the level of the Risk Zone is.

For OOC purposes the description of a Risk Zone will include an OOC warning of the risk level. The description must also include elements that would cause any sensible person to feel a sense of danger.

If a scene that took place in a Risk Zone later requires judgment, staff will look for an OOC warning by the participants of that location's risk level.

Risk Abuse

The Risk System was designed to enable players to participate in scenes and situations they might normally not be comfortable with. The system is not intended to enable players to escape the repercussions of their actions. The characters exist in a world of darkness with no special protection. Players are expected to drive their character(s) in ways that are realistic for the world of darkness.

Examples of abuse are the following:

  • Using lower risk level to escape the repercussions of actions that would put your life at risk in the world of darkness such as:
    • Violating the territory of another race or faction.
    • Disclosing supernatural secrets about others.
    • Breaking the laws of one's own faction.
  • Taking actions to manipulate another character's risk level such as:
    • Leading/forcing them to a risk zone.
    • Coercing someone OOC to change their risk level.

Players who RP out the unfavorable results of higher risk level actions with grace and maturity will be looked upon positively by staff.

Risk Escalation

Risk escalation refers to situations in which ICA=ICC (+rules consent) overrides the risk system. This is subject to staff review, and requires a clear and convincing argument.

  • If Alice tried to kill Bob yesterday, Bob can try to kill Alice and potentially succeed, even if Alice reduced her risk level in between.
  • If Alice looked at Bob funny yesterday, Bob trying to kill Alice would be disproportionate retribution. He can /try/ (because he has high Rage or whatever), but he won't succeed (no matter what he rolls) unless Alice is risk 3 or explicitly consents to his attempt.
  • If Alice was framed so Bob thinks she tried to kill him yesterday, Bob trying to kill Alice would still be disproportionate retribution. He can try, but he won't succeed (unless etc.). Meanwhile, Alice should consider loudly proclaiming her innocence while she considers how to clear her name.

Risk Myths

Here are some common misconceptions about the risk system and its implications, with explanations of why things don't actually work this way and how staff actually interprets the system in practice.

Myth #1: "I'm risk 0, so you can't do anything to me."
Reality: A risk 0 PC can handwave reduced changes, but not complete immunity (unless the others agree). Risk applies to combat and direct conflict, but not every single situation where something happens that a PC doesn't like. In particular, status/renown represents the collective opinion of others and is not subject to risk protection. Finally, if a PC starts trouble, then they may be risk-escalated to give another PC an opportunity to finish it.

Myth #2: "I'm risk 0, so you can't fight me."
Reality: Combat can happen at any risk level. If one PC is risk 0 (and not escalated), that means all PCs are effectively risk 0 for the purpose of that combat; they can all handwave reduced changes for themselves.

Myth #3: "I'm extremely (violent/insane/paranoid/whatever), so I can risk-escalate anyone."
Reality: Risk escalation must be reasonable. "Reasonable" is a subjective term and subject to staff interpretation, but staff is not going to interpret it that way. A (violent/whatever) PC can attack another low-risk PC on flimsy grounds, but the low-risk PC can handwave escaping relatively unscathed.

Myth #4: "You did something bad to me, so I can risk-escalate you."
Reality: Again, ICA=ICC and risk escalation must be reasonable. Staff is not going to interpret that you can make a mountain out of a molehill. Things like "sabotage" come in many different forms, some of which are more severe than others (keying your car, spreading plausible rumors, threatening/attacking/killing people close to you). If your instinctive response to anything bad is to jump straight to "I want to kill them", stop and think about it until you come up with some other ideas.

Myth #5: "I didn't do anything bad to you personally, so you can't risk-escalate me."
Reality: It depends on the situation. If you killed a PC's buddy, they have reasonable grounds for revenge. If you killed a few random innocent nobodies, they may reasonably decide that killing you is the only good way to stop you from killing a bunch more random innocent nobodies. This does depend on them finding out, so antagonists can kill innocents in closed PRPs and get away with it (provided they stay closed).

Myth #6: "You're a member of an enemy group, so I can risk-escalate you."
Reality: Staff will not approve risk escalation just because they've probably done something. You can certainly try to catch them in the act, though. Before attacking them on general principle, consider whether it would drag your group into a debilitating war of attrition.

Myth #7: "I believe you did something horrible to me, even though you didn't, so I can risk-escalate you."
Reality: Again, it's reasonable for you to try, but they can handwave getting away and attempting to clear their name.

Myth #8: "PKing is okay because it's the World of Darkness."
Reality: Yes, it's the World of Darkness. Sometimes, more often than in RL, bad things happen to people for no good reason. But bad things do not happen to PCs for no good reason, except possibly PCs who chose to accept that level of danger.

Myth #9: "PKing is not okay because it ends someone's RP."
Reality: Random PKing of PCs is generally agreed to be bad, but the reason for enforcing ICA=ICC via risk escalation is that it eventually becomes unfair to others to let you do stuff and then be untouchable.

Myth #10: "Risk escalation always means risk 3."
Reality: In practice, it usually does, but not always. A PC who reasonably motivated another PC to attack them (but not kill them or lock them up for a long time) may be escalated to risk 2. We're not sure what would reasonably escalate someone to risk 1, but that doesn't mean it couldn't happen.