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The Ten Principles of Ergo

The ten principles at the heart of collaborative roleplaying in the Ergo mold. There are definitely other ways of doing CoRP, but this is my personal angle of attack.

Some Background

The biggest challenge with collaborative role-playing is getting a handle on how it works. Here are ten priciples that make a role-playing game into a collaborative role-playing game. They combine a kind of manifesto for the hobby and a set of guidelines that are known to work.

The Ten Principles

1. All players have equal rights to the game.

There are no special players who determine how the story unfolds. There are no special players who decide what happens next. Everyone has the right to contribute to the story and its resolution.

So: There is no gamesmaster.

2. A character is not the avatar of its player.

Characters should not be the only way in which a player can influence the game. Characters are the actors in the story, but only in cooperation with the story's setting.

3. A player is not bound to a character.

Each player should be free (and encouraged) to play more than one character, serially or in parallel. Characters may be associated with one main player (the character's guide), but may also be played by others if the situation warrants it.

This means: There are no PCs or NPCs.

All characters are played by someone. Minor characters and extras can be played by anyone. Major characters usually have a specific guide, but can also be shared.

4. Games can contain subgames.

Subgames explain or develop parts of the whole. They may be played by a subset or overlapping set of players from the whole game. They may be tightly integrated with the main game or loosely connected by setting or character. There may not be an indentifiable main game.

5. There are no restrictions to the medium of play.

Games can be played face to face, by letter or email, or through chat rooms and MUDs. Different sub-games can be played in different formats.

6. It is a game.

"A game is a form of art in which participants, termed players, make decisions in order to manage resources through game tokens in the pursuit of a goal." Greg Costikyan.

It is not a storytelling framework, or a setting generation method.

7. The narrative or setting is the focus.

All players collaborate to make the most exciting, beautiful, and tangible story or game environment possible.

Some RPG players like to talk about three extremes: game, story and simulation. CoRP works with story and simulation, it doesn't work in a competitive environment.

8. Games are highly structured.

Games are broken down into sections and further into scenes. Play takes place within a scene, which has a definite ending. Players come out of character between scenes.

9. Storylines are complex and interwoven.

Stories are typically complex, with sub plots and character specific strands surfacing and subsiding througout. With a whole group evolving the game, the story tends to be rich and complex.

10. Players are collaborative.

Players to have good inter-personal skills. Everyone has the same goal: to have fun. Success comes from adding a second goal: to help everyone else have fun. There may be disagreements, inconsistencies, and perhaps even some bad feeling. If they can't be resolved, the game can't go on.