Introduction

On many games, 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 players 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

Let Freedom Ring uses a 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 Low Risk 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.

Zero Risk

Zero risk is a myth and always has been. Even at the lowest level of risk, ICA=ICC still applies, because it's unfair to others if (e.g.) someone can break the Masquerade willy-nilly but the vampires can never ever kill them to silence them. However, staff will apply common sense; if (e.g.) you just look at a Garou funny, they may frenzy and try to shred you but they have no obvious vested interest in succeeding. Also, targeted amnesia may be a reasonable alternative to deal with Masq breaches.

Low Risk

At low risk:

  • 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.
    • Otherwise, if you want to reduce or avoid changes, 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 low risk conflicts may require hand waving the details of how/why a change was reduced or avoided.

See Also: Hand Waving

Medium Risk

At medium risk:

  • 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 accept any permanent effects 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.

See Also: Hand Waving

High Risk

At high risk:

  • 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 high risk, 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.

  • "Low risk zone" is interpreted as a maximum. (If two high risk players are in a low risk zone, they're low risk. The owner don't want no trouble in his place.)
  • "Medium risk zone" is interpreted as a minimum, unless otherwise specified. (If two high risk players are in a medium risk zone, they're still high risk.)
  • "High risk zone" is interpreted as a minimum. (If two low risk players are in a high risk zone, they're high risk. What did you expect from a moat full of alligators?)

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 (+policy 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 high risk 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.

Players who bring or may bring ICC (Bob in these examples) should submit a +request as soon as they believe things may head in that direction.

Players who are subject to ICC (Alice in these examples) will not necessarily receive advance warning. They may dispute the validity of the escalation, but should inform the other players before the scene continues, even if they need time later to assemble arguments/evidence, and even if the players choose to continue the scene (with the understanding that part or all of it may be retconned).

Risk escalation is not always to high risk, nor to the entirety of medium risk. See '+policy risk myths' #10.

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 low risk, so you can't do anything to me." Reality: A low risk 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. 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 low risk, so you can't fight me." Reality: Combat can happen at any risk level. If one PC is low risk (and not escalated), that means all PCs are effectively low risk for the purpose of that combat; they can all handwave reduced changes for themselves according to low risk.
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 high risk." Reality: In practice, it usually does, but not always. One PC may only be motivated to escalate another PC to medium risk, or even a pre-defined subset of medium risk; for instance, if Alice punches Bob in the face, then maybe Bob doesn't care about breaking her legs, but he does want to get her charged with assault and locked up for a day or two until she makes bail.