Strict Roleplay on Furcadia is a very in-depth and rules-based form of Roleplay. In Strict Roleplaying, there is a strong emphasis on playing in a well-defined world, known as a Continuity, and ensuring that all characters' actions and backstory align with it. When all participating players uphold a Continuity, it gives rise to a very unified philosophy of play.
Strict Roleplay entails defined, mechanical limits on the actions your character can take on the world. It's a specific system with character guidelines / sheets, stats, etc. Think pen and paper systems, or RPGs.
You probably won't find spontaneous Strict Roleplaying because it requires you to absorb the source material and be familiar with a particular Dream's conventions of play.
Because of the need for more control, Strict Roleplaying takes place exclusively in Dreams, not on main maps, and Furcadia's staff does not monitor or regulate it. Players are encouraged to form Roleplaying Groups in order to participate in Strict Roleplay.
Strict Roleplay Guiding Principles
These guidelines exist to help both roleplayers and Group-makers develop their own Strict Roleplaying continuities. For more information on Roleplaying terms such as IC and OOC, see What is Roleplaying?
Table of Contents
- OOC chatter
- World assumptions
- Abilities & equipment
- Separating OOC & IC
- OOC conflicts
- Time Stops
- IC actions = IC consequences
- Preserving Continuity
- Plot assumptions
- IC conflict resolution
- Prearranged outcomes
Here are the tips for facilitating Strict Roleplay:
Out Of Character (OOC) speech should be should be avoided, and kept in brackets when it's necessary to address everybody present. Strict Roleplayers find OOC talk distracting. Too much OOC chit-chat, complaints, or insults may ruin the flow of play. If you're idling and waiting for others to come Roleplay, have an alt in an OOC area (if available) for the purpose of socializing. This is one reason Roleplay Dreams generally have an OOC lounge area separate from the RP areas.
Backgrounds that impose large world assumptions on the Continuity usually require approval. If you say you are a mind-reader, that imposes ESP on the Continuity. If you say you are a vampire, that imposes life-beyond-death on the Continuity. If you say you are a king of a country, that imposes the existence of a new nation on the Continuity and possibly bestows a large amount of In Character (IC) power upon yourself.
Abilities & equipment
Abilities or equipment may require rules and/or a neutral authority (ie GM, or arbiter, or a bot) to see that their acquisition and use are fair. Generally speaking, having some setting-appropriate equipment should be fine but some Groups require that special items (such as a pistol in a modern-day game) be cleared with the Rah or Dream Owner first.
In addition, every player should get a fair representation of their character's IC abilities. Whether or not you may refuse to consent to another's IC actions is decided by each individual Strict RP Group, as listed in their rules. As a general guideline: Unless specified otherwise, if the character has the approval of the Continuity's owner, you should not refuse to consent to their use of their IC abilities on your character.
Separating OOC & IC
Keep OOC and IC information separate. If your character knows something IC, they should communicate it to another in-scene. Revealing IC information OOCly ruins the drama for the other Strict Roleplayers.
As far as what a character can start off knowing: Unless the Group says otherwise, your character can only have specific knowledge if it was learned during actual Roleplay. For instance, your character's name is normally only known to those to whom your character has introduced themself. It's better not to write in the names of organizations to which you belong in your character's description or website. Instead, mention that group's colors, or that your character wears a medallion or ring and describe their insignia.
Most Groups will have specific rules for handling Alts (your different characters). Be sure to check the Continuity of the Dream you're roleplaying in. If you have multiple characters, their experience and knowledge of the game world are intended to be separate from what you know as the player and also separate from each other's knowledge. It's most conducive to Strict Roleplay to assume that if one of your characters spoke to others and learned something, another one of your alts does not know that information. Resist the temptation to recycle the things your other characters knew.
Avoid handling OOC conflicts IC. If you suspect your character is being attacked for non-IC reasons, ask the Rah to talk to the other player and get their IC rationale for attacking you. If the Rah is not satisfied that their motivation makes sense, or if they are concerned that the game is being used to disguise harassment, the Rah has the power to cancel the IC conflict.
If your character arrives in the middle of a fight, it's best to assume that you are not a part of it (often called a Time Stop). In traditional written Roleplay, players negotiate the outcome of combat scenes in "slow motion" since writing out each action and counter action occurs much more slowly than it would in actual time.
The Time Stop rule can prevent players from using OOC communication in order to summon their friends into a fight. If the Time Stop rule is in effect, it basically states that a fight is over before you arrive if you were not present at the start of a combat scene. This allows the original combatants to finish their fight and leave before others arrive (Fair Escape).
Within reason, you may be able to take back actions. This is called a RetCon. (Retcon is short for Retroactive Continuity.) Sometimes a player makes a mistake, for instance posing that they polish their sword when the sword was dropped elsewhere earlier. The polite thing to do is for the player to make a quick OOC announcement that the previous action didn't occur, and for other players to go on. That said, you should only Retcon something that just happened and you can only Retcon your own actions.
The purpose of a Retcon is not to explore a tree of possibilities relying on different decisions or let a player make up for an action that results in something they don't like. The purpose of a Retcon is to repair damaged Continuity as quickly and smoothly as possible. Retcons shouldn't be used to "take back" an action with a dice roll involved. Whether your character succeeds, fails, or fumbles has already taken place in the game's Continuity.
IC Actions = IC Consequences
IC Actions yield IC Consequences. If you mouth off to somebody, you might end up in a fight. If you commit a crime, you might be the target of law enforcement or the angry grief-stricken relatives and friends of the victim. Although the actual consequences might not happen in the game, you should try to play your character as if it was a possibility.
Strict Roleplay Groups may also use a variation on the above philosophy. "In-Character Actions should yield fair In-Character Consequences." In real life, if you mouth off to someone in a bar, they might assault you but it would not normally be with lethal force. Therefore, attacking you with lethal force would not be a fair In-Character Consequence. Note that "fair" here does not mean "both characters have equal IC power"; it refers to whether or not you had ample OOC warning about what you were ICly getting into.
Additionally, you won't have OOC control of the consequences of your IC actions. For example, if you throw a rock at someone's face, you can't OOCly assume the person who was hit will be okay with it, and walk away. For this to be handled in a fair fashion requires a Rah (referee), a predefined rule, or an appropriate random die roll.
Generally speaking, outside Continuities are not acknowledged. Character backgrounds should be in line with a Continuity, and you agree not to invoke outside Continuities. So, no Jedi, no Drow, no Malkavians, no "speaking Feral", etc., unless these are agreed-upon parts of the Continuity. Most of the time characters in Strict Roleplay need to be approved by the Rah/gamemaster/arbiter before you can start roleplaying.
Ultimately, somebody has to be in charge of the Continuity. (Normally that defaults to the Rah, the one who owns the Group.) Somebody (or a group of somebody's) needs to oversee changes in an individual's background or played-out story events to preserve the believability of the story. Generally, a storyteller/referee/gamemaster will not interfere, but players can request interference for the good of the Continuity, even to the point of forcing the RetCon of previously played-out events.
Also, upholding the Continuity is everybody's job. For example, if your character looks like a demon and the setting is a typical medieval village, they would probably get attacked and driven out or captured. Your character should take appropriate measures to hide their frightening aspects, or be prepared for that mob of villagers with pitchforks and blessed arrows.
Similarly, the other players have an obligation to react with suspicion and hostility if they see your true features, unless they have a good IC reason not to.
To maximize everyone's enjoyment, all players should be a valid part of the Continuity. If the Continuity is being violated, the Continuity's Rah should act by removing the "offending" character or insisting that they behave differently. But, as a player, you shouldn't take matters into your own hands and act as if someone else was not there. In Strict Roleplay, there's only one Continuity for everyone, so you can't just announce that another character is not a part of "your" Continuity.
A character whose background conflicts with the Continuity should be asked to wait until their character is edited before continuing roleplaying. If a character's actions are not in line with Continuity, the events should be rewritten by the one(s) in charge of Continuity.
It is up to the Group to regulate which kinds of action players are expected to Roleplay out. Some Groups permit you to "fade-to-black" on any scene you do not wish to play, but may require you to play out the consequences later. Some Groups offer multiple levels of commitment to the Continuity, within the same playgroup.
As you can see, departing from the regular Consent Rule can mean a lot of special-case rules to handle different kinds of situations. For example, a Group may make a special rule that if you did nothing to provoke an attack, that you may automatically choose a non-death outcome.
To protect the Continuity, plot assumptions may override what players want. Sometimes, to maintain a dark atmosphere, a Group may have a rule that certain plot assumptions of the Continuity override being able to avoid IC consequences because they don't seem fair.
These include established motives that one type of character has to spontaneously assault another type of character with deadly force. Here's an example: The pencil-and-dice Roleplaying game "Werewolf: the Apocalypse" has a Plot Assumption that werewolves are expected to attempt to kill vampires. A vampire might walk up to the werewolf and just say, "Hello.", be detected by an IC power, and end up in a fight to the death. Without this provision for "Deadly Animosities", this Continuity could not be properly portrayed.
This situation can also arise due to specific character situations. For instance, a character might have an accepted background that they are a psychotic killer, or deranged combat veteran subject to flashbacks in which they mistake those around them for enemies. Groups may insist that you submit a written background or character sheet, so that what is fair is more clear. They may alternately opt to disallow backgrounds that would tend to lead to such unpredictable or unfair IC consequences.
To prevent players from complaining that these "nasty surprises" weren't fair, it's recommended that Groups list them under plot assumptions. You may not get a specific immediate warning that your character is going to be attacked, but you deserve to be warned in general if that is the kind of IC event that you are expected to accept.
Along with this concept, it's important to avoid taking an action with natural consequence that would cause major change to the Continuity unless those in charge of the Continuity approve it. This includes such things as destroying a major location, starting a war, or becoming the ruler of a nation.
Whether or not something should become an overarching plot assumption may be discussed with those in charge. For example, suppose your mad scientist character wanted to unleash a hideous disease on society. The Rah might decide this is a plot they want to have happen. All player characters would then be informed of the visible effects of the disease (looting and riots? hospitals overrun? city gates closed? suspected victims barricaded into their homes?)
Deciding if your character then contracted the disease could be chosen OOCly voluntarily or could be checked with a random die roll.
IC conflict resolution
You have the right to the resolution of an IC conflict. If you get disconnected or have to leave just as a conflict is imminent, or in the middle of a fight, make arrangements with others present to continue later. If your opponent fails to show up, you should ask the head of Continuity for a resolution. Especially if others are somehow involved, you aren't necessarily entitled to make up the ending.
Scenes with prearranged outcomes don't work well in Strict Roleplay. For example, OOCly agreeing to meet for the first time and become instantly lovers doesn't usually work with Continuity rules.
Asking OOC questions about ICly relevant matters is generally frowned upon as well. Strict Roleplay is kept exciting by being spontaneous. Strict RPers shouldn't whisper, "Is your character lying?" "Are you a shapeshifter?" "Do you intend to attack my character?", etc. unless they have an IC power to back it up, such as mind-reading or magical divination that actually works. The best answer to such a question is, "Find out IC."
After reading this, some of you will think that these things are obvious. Unfortunately, they aren't to most players, and that has led to a lot of OOC conflicts. This document shows that it takes a lot of Rah or Gamemaster decision-making and effort to accomplish Strict Roleplaying. That said, you can also create automated Strict Roleplay systems that do not require GMs by using DragonSpeak, bots, PhoenixSpeak, and other scripting.
Every player is free to play as they please in their own Dream. These rules are for those who want rules. There's no rule that a character has to somehow be "valid" by the standards of any other player than their creator. Furcadia is for living out your dreams, and different players want different levels of challenge and complexity. You can insist that those who enter your Dream play by your rules if you use Dragonspeak to make sure that wanderers can't accidentally come by and disrupt your Roleplay, and also, that your "House Rules" are posted on your Group page.
Many of you will decide that Strict Roleplaying is more hassle than you want. That's okay! But hopefully you understand why Strict Roleplaying is relatively rare. In either event, you're encouraged to find a Group that's to your liking, or even form a new one.