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Site Discussion: Rules & Changes
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Site Discussion: Game Rules & Policy Changes

Hi everyone,

As you all know, Ruins of Wildwood recently celebrated its 7th birthday. Over the years, the game has evolved and changed in ways that I never would have believed possible. Some of these changes have been really positive and have led to better storylines and player experiences, while others have been not so great and led to confusion and frustration. We want to open up a discussion about some of these frustrating policies and work towards solutions that meet the needs of the community.

We also want to address these issues because we, as the RoW staff, have been struggling with finding the balance of when to leave our existing policies alone and feeling like we need to adjust them because somebody brought up X situation. Several times throughout the years, we've been accused of micromanaging the game, which is something nobody (including us) wants. It's exhausting for everybody involved, and so we want to do away with or clarify some of the policies we have that create the most confusion.

Our goal in doing this is to, hopefully, create a more laid back, member-driven game that would recapture the simplicity of the early days. The game should be able to run more or less the same without staff involvement, because we trust that our member base is mature and has the site's best interests in mind. This game exists for all of you. The following items are an attempt to capture some existing rules or policies that infringe on or complicate our current vision for the game, and some ideas for alleviating these issues.

Game Rules

Most importantly, we need to get our game rules in order. Sarah and I have put together a list of the site's game rules and realized very quickly that even though our "official" rules in the library only have a handful of things on it, there are actually a lot more unwritten rules than we realized. Our goal is to simplify this list and have an updated library article with the game rules in their entirety to make it easy for all of us to refer to game policies.

There are several rules highlighted in yellow that we feel could be discussed and revised or removed. These are:

- Removing the 2 week waiting period for bringing in new characters: This rule was originally added to prevent players from making a new character whenever a new plot idea hit them and then dropping them once they lost enthusiasm for the idea. In practice, there's nothing stopping somebody from quickly dropping a character and it only leads to more work for the staff in tracking when a player last joined the game with the character.

- Removing the 200 word minimum for posts: This is by far the biggest change we are proposing, and it is a change we very seriously want to consider and discuss because of the impact it could have. Initially, RoW had a word count of 250 which was dropped to 200 a few years ago after members' requested it. At it's heart, the rule exists because RoW is about writing, and we wanted to push people to write well thought out posts. The word count has also served as a barrier to entry - there is a certain standard of writing that we wanted our community to have and word count was one way of achieving that. But we recognize that RoW is a hobby, and sometimes it is hard to write 200 words (especially in large pack threads where your character isn't doing much but listening). Our inclination is to maintain the 200 word count for joining applications, but do away with it in game so players can post as little or as much as they want.

- Removing the restriction on puppies not being able to survive on their own before 8 months of age: For those of you who have been a member of RoW during breeding season and the start of puppy season, you know that puppies are a really big deal on the site. Only available once a year, people get incredibly excited about the prospect of playing a new character from birth with family ties to other characters. But we all know the reality of the situation - by the time the pups are actually playable in May/June/July, a lot of that excitement has died off. It is hard to play a character who is realistically limited in what they can and cannot do, and we get that. Right now, the rule is in place to try and prevent puppies from being dropped. But it adds another layer of complexity for staff when conducting activity checks, and more often than not, we are more concerned with a puppy's inactivity than the parents themselves. By removing this rule, we're proposing that puppies are treated like any other character who goes inactive. If parents want to take their inactive puppy back, they need to work that out with the adopter themselves.

- Removing the rule that a pack must have two leaders of the opposite gender: This has been a request for years, and has something we've avoided for a few reasons. These are primarily realism and technical concerns. From a technical standpoint, our rank system just doesn't allow two wolves of the same gender to hold the same rank, and from a realism standpoint, wolves of the same gender don't typically display the same level of dominance in the hierarchy (even if they're closely matched, there is usually one who is more dominant). But we're open to changing our stance on this if the community wants us too. The other thing this changes is what to do when a pack doesn't have a viable replacement for an inactive leader, which has happened many times over the game's history.

- Level of Knowledge about Relic Lore: Are characters who have never met any character connected to Relic Lore able to know details about the happenings of Relic Lore? We'd like to have a set blanket rule that can cover this, whether that means no, a character cannot know details about Relic Lore without having been there/know a character who has, or yes they can.

- Gray area with powerplaying rules: We agree that in general powerplaying is not allowed, but a lot of packs and individual members have exceptions for things that can be generally assumed. We'd like to make this more consistent for new members especially.

- Thread Completeness: For both LP and archival purposes, we require a thread to be "complete". But we don't ever define what that means. We'd like to have a concise definition that covers the whole site and applies to anything that requires a complete thread.

- PG 13 Rules: Our stance on mature topics isn't clear in our current rules at all, and we'd like to do better to clear up what is and isn't allowed. Many of us aren't bothered by things like cursing or graphic writing, but many people are. We want RoW to be a comfortable place for everyone and having a clear policy on these kind of plots and writing styles is important, and creating a standard so nobody ends up reading something they don't want to read is especially important.

- Wolf Subspecies: Originally, only species listed in the guidebook were allowed, but that has since expanded on a case-by-case basis. We want to make this more consistent and update the library accordingly.

- Characters based on fictional works: We have an unwritten rule that characters should not be based on characters in fiction, in the sense that we've turned away a literal "Hodor" wolf before who was entirely modeled after the character from Game of Thrones. However, there's limits to how much we can enforce this kind of thing and we want to know what the community think is fair.

Other Changes

We'd also like to propose some other changes to items that are not necessarily "game rules".

- Remove Negative LP Docks: This would include the lone wolf docks, docks for leaving a pack, and docks for losing leadership (as well as any others I'm missing). The purpose of Life Points was to track your character's development, not to punish anybody. These changes would apply retroactively, which means we would update all character docks to remove the negative points from their history and totals.

- Remove free pass system: Similar to the two week waiting rule between characters, this rule was implemented to let people rejoin with multiple characters at a time but limit the extent that people could serially drop/rejoin characters. Ultimately, we can't stop people from having multiple characters and this system made it more confusing than the problem needed. All we ask is that if you do have multiple characters, you be considerate of the people you're RPing with on all of your accounts. It's frustrating and hurtful when you're threading with Character A and the player stops responding with them, but posts a lot with Character B instead. By doing away with these two rules, we're relying on player's to be honest with themselves and their RP partners about what they can handle and commit to.

- Removing unnecessary fields from character profiles: These include the den location, height, weight, and length. Ultimately, we find these fields to be unnecessary and can lead to confusion. There are places in your profile to include that type of info if you find it important to you.

- Library Updates: In accordance with the changes above, we'll be overhauling our Game Rules & Newcomer's Guides to be a more accurate representation of what RoW is. These changes will be made when this discussion is concluded.

These are some big changes, which is why we want to bring them to your attention. Until we've had the chance to discuss it with the site, none of these changes are official. In terms of timeline, we'd like to move forward with the accepted and discussed changes in the next 2-3 weeks. If there are other concerns you have that are not mentioned here, we'd love to hear about them, so please let us know. We're really serious about getting feedback on these issues, so let us know what you think. Positive, negative, or neutral feedback is all welcomed and encouraged.
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Most of these changes seem fine to me, however I have to admit the removal of the word count minimum bothers me just a little. Perhaps the word count could be reduced a little, but my worry is in shorter responses, say in a one on one thread, it gives the other role player not a lot to work with and respond to, if that makes sense?

Whilst I understand it's my choice to write over the word count, I do find it a little discouraging when I have written a lot, given them as much to work with as I can, only to get a little in return. Honestly, makes it hard to be as invested in the thread.

Perhaps we could have a 10% system? Like in writing essays or work for school/university ect , you're allowed a 10% leeway on the minimum word count. So really the minimum would be 180, or something like that?

As for the unnecessary fields in the characters profile,the den location as others have said isn't needed and can cause some confusion to newbies. As for the size stats, I personality like having them there, so I can get more of a feel of the characters appearance, which in turn helps with how my characters react to them. Rather than just narrowing it down to small, medium and large, could there be some sort of middle ground perhaps? 

That's all I can think of for now, may edit tomorrow when it's not the crack of dawn. :D 
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I feel like we should keep the minimum 200 word count rule. However, I do feel as if sometimes people post less than this (including myself) which is fine like our post isn't going to be removed from a pack thread because it's less than 200 words or something along those lines. But it's nice to have a little structure in terms of how long a post should be.

In terms of the completeness of a thread, for the archive, for a two-person thread, I feel as if both people should agree on when to archive the thread and for a large thread, say a pack hunt or meeting, there should be a date set for when the final round is going to end and the thread is going to be archived so that it isn't sitting there for months with no replies. For LP, I generally don't even apply for mine until the thread is completely archived.

For characters of fictional works, I think it's okay if you get your inspiration for a character from a fictional one but not to completely base your character off it. 

I also like fields in the character profiles (e.g. height, weight, length) but I do feel as if we could do away with the den location one. I sometimes forget it's even there and forget to change it with my characters.
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I fully support removing restrictions on bringing in characters and word count in particular. To be 100% honest, being forced to write 200 words for my post to be considered worthy of LP or worthy of a response or worth anything is one of the biggest reasons I'm not more active around here, and is one of the biggest turn offs of roleplay sites in my honest opinion. Posts should be about quality, not quantity, and I don't feel it's for anyone to decide how many words counts as a good post. I've seen plenty of posts <200 words that are action packed, to the point, and give you plenty to reply to. Conversely, I've seen plenty of 500+ word posts that are nothing but introspective fluff with very little to reply to. Basically, the number of words has nothing to do with whether a post is good or not.

Some roleplayers are comfortable writing very long posts, and that's cool. Others are more comfortable writing shorter posts, and that's also cool. In fact, I find I write more poorly when forced to add in additional words just to meet a minimum count, resulting in lower quality and a more jumbled post. Additionally, being expected to write 200 words for my post to "count" is a major barrier to posting when I have limited time, which is all of the time, unfortunately. I do play on a site with no word count and have never encountered a single instance of people writing one-liners -- and if someone isn't posting enough for you to work with, it's really not hard to ask them to add a little more.

Most of these other changes I could take or leave. I honestly didn't even know what the free pass system was and think we could do without it. Unnecessary fields in profiles are just that - unnecessary. Wolves don't technically make dens anyway besides whelping, so den location at the very least could disappear and would make sense to, while things like height and weight are handy to know but shouldn't be required fields.
I'm for keeping the minimum word count, even though I personally struggle with churning out a 200+ post, I know that the reason behind it is to set a certain standard as well as encourage us as writers to think outside of the box a little to respond to our threads. I would hate to have nice long, decent posts when a person can respond with a few sentences, it makes it hard to respond to. I consider it similar to when you write someone a text in real life, it has emotion and explanations and the person who receives it respond with a simple "okay", it boils me up inside I tell ya!

And I totally agree on getting rid of the docks, for instance my story plot for Rory involves her wanting to find a reason to join a pack and not simply join because it's hard being a loner. I want more background to her, more substances and drama and the docks are kinda discouraging because I have to get so many posts and complete so many threads before the two week deadline. I would like to just develop her as slowly or as fast as I want, especially since this is kinda new to me and I want to do it right. I think that it will also help with pack moral and encourage more people to write to their hearts desire without pressure to pump out a ton of threads simply for LP.

The other issues I agree on. I like Relic Lore because of the standards that are put into place. If I wanted to join a unrealistic website with people who can hardly spell or type very small and uninteresting posts there are plenty of sites that I can join and do that. I choose to stay here because people are active and meeting those goals and its encouraging to me. It pushes me when I feel like I have lost some interest. Also, the guidelines and other tidbits to the site really make it unique, I like the site because it is so different and yet so simple at the same time!
Graphics by Arya and Becuffin!

I am personally happy with all of the suggested rule changes.

The only thing I would like to keep is the Height, Weight and Length fields in the Wolf profile. I find this adds a bit of extra detail to characters and can be useful when wolves are sizing each other for fights/scuffles. For instance two wolves could be 'Large' but one could be tall and slim and one wolf could be bulky, which may effect how one wolf feels about attacking the other etc.

I also feel that if the 200 word limit is removed (which I would be happy about) that a little note should be put in the rules saying that people should not take advantage and just write 1-2 sentences per post.
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Benefits I see to removing the 200 word count per post are mostly for high intensity situations where a lot of actions would be able to happen in quick succession without compromising possible power play options. Say two wolves have engaged in a fight. Not every turn is going to easily yield that minimum and I feel it may sometimes lead to people pushing closer to the power play just to hit those words.
It would definitely allow for a lot more freedom.

But I also worry in other instances where people stop putting forth the effort. So it's difficult to say. Can be damned if you do and damned if you don't.

I also personally enjoy having the heights and stuff to compare each wolf. Also helpful in a fight to realistically aid in determining outcome without rolls.

Otherwise, the rest of this stuff looks fine to me!
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I'm for removing the 2 week waiting period for bringing in new characters simply because, like you said, there is no real way to stop someone from dropping a character as soon as they bring them in, and most of the time the rule just makes people who have ideas that last quite a while wait two weeks in order to bring in a character that's going to remain active on the site.

As for the 200 word minimum for posts, I don't think you should remove it completely, but maybe lower it. I've seen a lot of sites put their limit at 100 and it seems to be a middle ground between making sure people still try to write for quality and making sure there is a decent amount of length to a post. It's worked really well for all of them, and it might work well for us? Another thing could be simply changing that rule to post matching courtesy rule or something to ensure that someone isn't writing a massive post only to receive a couple sentences in return.

I'm for removing the rule that states that puppies can't survive on their own before eight months, simply because life happens and to have a puppy die because of that is incredibly unfortunate.

Also, maybe I'd like to bring up allowing puppies who are 8+ months to join the site? I know why the puppy rule is in place, because only wolves born on site can have "puppy status" but I think that if a pup that is 8+ months can survive on their own, then they can definitely make their way to Relic Lore?

Complete in my mind means an end to all interactions between characters through some stated method - one character walks off and the other does not follow, one character falls asleep, or a fade or end comment is added to the end of a post.

Allow any subspecies as long as they have the backstory to prove why/how that particular breed arrived in the Lore.

I'd say allow characters based on fictional works as long as it isn't a character EXACTLY. Like, the Hodor character wouldn't be allowed if it's name was Hodor and it was literally just the GoT character in wolf form. But, if you want to have a character that is heavily inspired by Hodor, then go for it?

Also for removing the free pass system (with the 2 week wait system) and the (-) LP docks. Maybe to compensate for the life of a lone wolf realistically when it comes to fights and such, have something in the fight stats that adjusts for that (which I'm pretty sure there already is?)

I love having the height, weight, and length but I do think that den location could be removed and maybe replaced with a 'build' section where we could flesh out our character's appearance more with descriptions like "bulky" or "lanky"

EDIT: For the idea to bring in pups 8+ months old, requiring the pup to have supervision would be a good way to make sure that this isn't abused and RoW Breeding Season is still hype af.
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I think we should keep the 200 WC minimum -- or at least change it to 150 or something.  Part of what attracted me to RoW is that kind of standard -- I'm really not interested in writing a post only to get a few lines in response because there's no lower minimum.  Post-matching sounds nice in theory, but I think that might require more effort on behalf of staff if any given party doesn't stick to that.

As far as puppies go...I like the realism, but I guess if it ends up that staff are more concerned about their puppy's activity than anyone else is, that probably seems a bit backwards.  Putting it back into the hands of the parents seems pretty good with me.

I'm fine with pretty much everything else, with the exception of subspecies and removing profile fields.  I think height/weight/length are nice because I can look at another large wolf and determine if mine is smaller or larger, and it helps with writing.  (As opposed to just 'two large wolves' and then you can't really tell.)  I think the subspecies need to be looked at by staff before being changed -- I've personally tried to get certain subspecies and have been denied (and I'm not the only one), so it would be really frustrating to have that changed now.
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Removing the 2 week waiting period for bringing in new characters: I'm fine with the removal of this/no comment as it hasn't really affected me.

- Removing the 200 word minimum for posts: Touchy subject. I think you should be able to post freely without counting words. I know I'm definitely guilt of posting the amount I post and that's it. However, I would fear that one or two liners would end up being a thing.

- Removing the restriction on puppies not being able to survive on their own before 8 months of age: I think if someone adopts a pup and they go inactive with it, they should be able to keep it if they want and bring it back later without it automatically dying. Especially if they really want the pup but life issues happen. It's just not fair to the pup or the rper. It is an RP site, so it can be said the pup was "saved" by someone. However, I do feel that if the person doesn't want the pup anymore, or the parents ask for it back, and it does not get a new player after a certain period, it should then be considered dead.

- Removing the rule that a pack must have two leaders of the opposite gender: I'm not sure how to go about this... There is always going to be a male most dominant and a female most dominant... But then again there is gay/lesbian characters. This is a hard one...

- Level of Knowledge about Relic Lore: If your character hasn't been to relic lore, or you haven't meant a character from relic lore, or it wasn't passed on, I guess you wouldn't know about if anyhow?

- Gray area with powerplaying rules: N/A

- Thread Completeness: N/A

- PG 13 Rules: N/A

- Wolf Subspecies: I'm fine with the removal of this/no comment as it hasn't really affected me.

- Characters based on fictional works: I don't mind characters based off movies, TV shows, etc... I have characters somewhat like that. I don't think it would be a problem seeing as techniqually since they are a wolf things would be a bit different anyhow.

- Remove Negative LP Docks: I agree to this. I don't think we should be punished for having a character step down from leadership of be punished for bit shoving a character in a pack right away. HOWEVER, as far as rogues go, I think a system should be in order that rogue wolves cannot have any higher then 75% health during the warmer months and no higher then 50% during the winter. Being a loner with high health rate in winter is unrealistic.

- Remove free pass system: I'm fine with the removal of this/no comment as it hasn't really affected me.

- Removing unnecessary fields from character profiles: I like having the height, weight, and length section. This way you can take this into consideration when meeting a wolf for the fight type, fighting, etc... I feel that we can do away with den location however. Obviously if they are in a pack, their den is where the pack is and if they are a loner, they are a roamer and don't have a set home or territory. So this is unnecessary.