Congratulations, you have graduated or are close to graduating Avatar school. Very soon now you will have full access to the wide world of avatarting including: reading all of our boards, having all the lines turned on, lurking over players and being able to glimpse at everything stats. Around 30 days after the birth of your avatar, you will be allowed to resume playing a character. Will you av today, or will you play today? Can your player be involved in plots still? How much should I do of both? What are the rules? This article is intended to help you answer those questions about suggested behavior and any actual rules concerning how you balance the time.
You will have seen this before, but for ease of reference.. these are the guidelines established by papa g around 2007 for how much plotting you should be expected to do each month. Obviously, things like breaks, illness, etc., are expected. No one is really keeping count, but you can't ever say that this was not presented to you:
While most of this entry contains guidelines, there are a few rules which are not flexible. We will get those out of the way first.Participate:
You're a part of a group!
Please give feedback when you can.
Help your fellow avatars out with commands and ideas.
Be a sounding board for Wizards.
Do at least one of the following:
* 1 instance of a Major plot with 2 or more NPC's, with at least 4 PC's. usually running more than 2-3 days, but not (generally) more than a month.
* 2 instances of Minor plots: 1-2 NPC's, 2-3 PC's. running from 2 days to a week.
* 3 side stories: 1 NPC/ 2 orbs, 1-2 PC's. Lasts a maximum of 3 days.
* 6 instances of color commentary: Using echos to make someone's experience unique, with maybe an orb of a mob. Shouldn't last more than a day, and no real impact need happen on the world at large.
1) You may NOT have both an immortal entity and a mortal entity logged in at the same time. Of course, you may have your avatar and as many persona logged in at once if you are av'ing.
2) You may log in as your avatar as soon as you quit playing your character. But the converse is not true...
3) If you were logged in as your avatar, you must wait a MINIMUM of ten minutes before logging in your character. My recommendation is that you wait at least 20 minutes.
4) You may NOT read any forum topic under Active Plots in which your character is listed as a "cast" member.
5) You should NOT make any item, room or plot device intended for one of your characters. Because, as should be obvious from the rules above, you will not be using any of your avatar capabilities for your character. They cannot be logged in at the same time.
In general, when you are playing a character you have to make a mental shift back into the player seat. You are not currently an avatar. You are expected to obey all the rules that a player would. You should feel free to play your character as intended, not use your eyes as a hidden police force and not use your character as a launching pad for your upcoming avatar plot. Keeping your waters separated is, admittedly, difficult. Some will find it easier than others. But for the sake of the mental exercise: When you are playing, pretend you are not an Avatar.
While playing, you are under the same restrictions as a player, but you are also allowed the same benefits. You have the opportunity to grow in status from player to AP to HM. You are allowed to submit avatarmail just as you would have as a player. Obviously, your avatar will not pick up the plot but one of your peers may. You are allowed to ask for request races, give ideas for the character, ask for help. Again, you simply have to pretend like you aren't an Avatar at times to get back into the groove.
Its a slippery slope, to be sure. Some will discover that they no longer receive the same joy from playing once they start running plots. Others may decide they don't like to Avatar at all. There are no real rules for how to balance your two roles, but I will attempt to elaborate on some patterns that others have fallen into to find their balance. These are:
You may decide you really don't feel like playing after awhile. Your former characters will never be timerid, so they are always there for when you want to make quick jaunts. You might make a newbie every now and then just for the relief that comes from bashing xvarts. But, for the most part, you mostly av. Because your characters are logged in so infrequently, there is little risk of abusing your roles. You're not logged in often enough to participate in plots or engage in PK. The danger with this approach is the risk that you forget what it is like being a player. One of your key roles as Avatar is a laison and helper for players, and the best way to be good at that is the empathize with their condition. The Mostly Avatar should log in a character every now and then, just to keep things in perspective.
You decide you don't want to give up either role, but you don't want to risk any abuse or perceived abuse. Or, you simply need longer stretches of time to "get into" a character and want to be involved with plots or PK. In order to accomplish this, you assume only one role or the other for an extended period of time. If you're planning on getting deeply into a character for, say, longer than a month but less than six months, this is the probably the right path for you. You don't have to alert the imms who you are playing as, but you should make a notification on the forum that you are taking a break from your role as immortal in order to play. Obviously, you are not expected to abide by any guidelines concerning how much plot you do per month while on break. While you are in "play mode" you should still feel welcome to keep up on the forum, read the general boards or announcements but you should stay clear of the Plot sections. You could log in to check in on people but you should not read Avatarmail or PKmail. When you've had your fix, you're free to resume your Avatar role as normal and you will be warmly welcomed back. The only danger of this approach is if you are abandoning any sort of responsibility. Just make sure your plate is clean before you make the hop. Wrap up your plots, make sure you responded to your mail if you were Aving. Don't be in a plot or a PK situation when you plan to make the jump back from playing.
You do both at once. You might av more one week and play more the next, but you're dividing your time. These are the murky waters. Because you're not taking a break from Avatar, you are still expected to read all the boards, the requests, the PKmail. You are still expected to be running plots. But you're also down there playing. You might be playing regularly enough to still be involved in someone else's plot or a PK situation. Clearly, the potential for abuse, even subconsciously, is everywhere. Follow all of the rules and guidelines above and particularly stay away from Active Plot topics your character is involved in. This is, by the way, the reason that "cast" should be one of the first bits of information to appear in your plot notes. You are expected to conduct yourself with principles concerning OOC and IC knowledge. However, as well intentioned as you may be, there is simply no way for you to unring certain bells. For example, you might discover while Av'ing that your IC party member is lying about their alignment. You still have to play your character's ignorance, erring on the side of extra ignorant when situations like this come up. There are obviously many hazards to working in this pattern, my opinion is probably very clear about it, but some people manage it just nicely. You must, afterall, continue to do what you enjoy doing. And if you find yourself enjoying doing both at once, you should do so. If conflicts arise, feel free to talk to another imm about the best way to deal with it.
You're putting aside your Avatar duties indefinitely, decide you don't like the role, or plan to play a character or break from SG for more than a year or so. You may ask Tsera or garrett to "freeze" your Avatar. Having never been frozen, I can only assume its somewhat similar to IN JAIL, allowing you to log in, communicate or mail, but otherwise fairly immobile. When you are frozen, all but the most general threads on the immortal forum will be restricted. You can still pop in and check in on your immortal comrades, give us updates or plans, but you aren't "active" in imm land any longer. Should you decide you would like to resume your role of Avatar at a later time, you would contact Tsera or g again to be unfrozen. You will probably not have to undergo training again, unless years have passed. But you will probably need to make an arrangement with a new Avatar mentor to learn about any new tools and get you comfortable again. If you are "quitting" your role of Avatar, please make sure that the people in LAW you're discussing it with are crystal clear about if you want to be frozen, or simply want to quit it for good.
Avatar, Player, and personal space...
Related to the above but an entirely different issue is the subject of personal space between you, an Avatar, and any players that you might communicate with OOCly. Like it or not, your most gracious friends will want to prod you for information about plots or immortal activity. You might feel torn about how much you should share with your buddy. The rule is very easy to remember: Nothing. You don't discuss plots, even with other characters, even with vagueness. You don't tell them about changes to the MUD unless the wiz making the change says its okay. Think about all of the potentials for abuse (even accidental) that can occur in the Part-time Avatar pattern. Now imagine that you and every player you talk to OOCly have that information as well. Taken to an extreme, this amounts to most of the game knowing things they aren't meant to and, seriously, it removes a lot of the fun and surprise for everyone. If the players are down there with secret knowledge, everyone is basically just jumping through hoops and faking their surprise. The game devolves from true adventure to a badly acted play. Would you drop your DM screen while you took your 10 minute break from the game table? Really, use that as an example when your friends ask for secrets. Won't they lose a huge part of the experience if they know what is behind every corner? While you might be tempted to pick just one or two buddies that you feel you can trust, that is still not acceptable. Because everyone, everyone likes to hint that they know secrets. You tell them, "but you can't tell anyone else," they will almost surely speak to someone else they know OOCly, tell them, and add "but you can't tell anyone else," ad nauseum.
Your OOC friends might also feel like they have a luxury now that one of their comrades is an immortal. They might not be poke at you for secrets, but they might think that they're going to get some special advantages. You already know you're not going to do that, and I know you won't either. Just politely tell them that Tiamat will eat you if you try. However, what -IS- more likely to happen is that the player feels chummy with you even though you are an immortal now. Its sometimes a lot of fun to just catch up with players, find out how they are, whatever, via tells. But remember that you hold all the cards now, and you require some personal space from players for hundreds of reasons. Please feel free to treat people warmly and address their concerns. But do not risk being so casual that they end up feeling they have a pet Avatar. The relationship with players should feel something like a professional relationship with coworkers. You might share, be friendly, offer encouragement, hang out when off duty, or whatever feels right to you. But you should keep some boundaries. You're sometimes going to have to tell players, politely, that you don't like their idea, offer a different suggestion, need some time to finish something up, stop picking on newbies. Never forget that words spoken from an immortal's mouth carry more weight. Players need to look up to us and need to feel comfortable asking for guidance, not issue orders to us or make us dance.
For all of the reasons above, I also recommend you do not use a chat service while logged in as your Avatar. If too many Tells are bad, IMers are hellish. You need your space.