Some Advice...


The information provided here was originally written by my good friend, Dean Edgell, for his excellent game Intrigue in the Clouds. It was written for beginners and experienced players alike and I have reproduced it here (with minor changes so it applies more generally). So, if you are new to freeforms looking to see what it's all about or an old hand looking for another perspective, read on...

Some Advice

As in any roleplaying game, in a freeform you will be taking on the role of a fictional character. However, unlike a traditional round-the-table game, in a freeform every player in the game will be playing their own character: a unique individual with his or her own background, knowledge, objectives and abilities. Your characterís goals will not be the same as those of the other characters. Some may share some of your goals, but not others, while there may be characters who have goals contrary to yours, which could bring you into conflict. Other characters will have goals completely unrelated to yours, but possess knowledge or abilities that you can use.

Your characterís goals are only a starting point. In your role you will find yourself becoming involved in events of great importance. It is up to you to decide how to respond to each character you meet. At any given time, most of the other characters are probably not your enemies. As you learn more as time goes on, you may need to rethink your own characterís motivations and loyalties. In fact, discovering enough about the scenario to choose your characterís best course of action should be every playerís main objective.

Roleplaying is the art of player interaction. You and the other players may meet, converse, bargain or trade with each other. In character, you may conceal, reveal or lie about anything. Generally speaking, intrigue and scheming are to be encouraged in the majority of games. The only time you are obligated to tell the truth is when you are speaking as a player, ie dealing with some aspect of the game mechanics or when you are speaking with a referee.

Your character sheet is effectively your character. It is a document that has no existance within the game: it comes from the writers to you, the player, to tell you (and you alone) about your character. For that reason, do not let any other player see your character sheet. You should also resist the temptation to show your character to other players to back up a point ("it says here that..."). Remember, your character sheet does not exist within the game. The only time when this would be acceptable is if you are discussing the rules, although even then you should really see a referee.

Similarly you must not ask another player to show you his or her character sheet or special abilities (except when those abilities are being used). If you find another playerís character sheet or special abilities, please do not read them. Either return them to the player or hand them to a referee.

Freeforms run on an honour system. To be blunt, it's not that hard to cheat: all it requires is dishonesty by you, as a player, towards your fellow players (rather than towards their characters). But frankly, what's the point?

Please try to obey the rules. Instructions on game cards must be followed. For example, suppose you pick up an Item card that reads, ďYou have just touched an Item coated with contact poison. Report to a referee.Ē You could just put it down and pretend that you never touched it. Who would know? Well, thatís cheating. Cheating is the only way to lose in a freeform.

The word of any referee is law. Referee rulings are final even if they contradict the written rules. Arguing with a referee is unwise. It also detracts from the role playing experience. Donít do it. Also, do not seek the same ruling from different referees: once a referee has told you something, thatís it.

Common sense takes precedence over loopholes in the rules. The purpose of the rules is to provide a framework for roleplaying. Donít try to exploit, twist, or beat the rules for strategic purposes. Thatís not what this game is about.

This game may be different from any other game youíve ever played. Sure, thereís a set of rules. We need them for those parts of the game you canít do for real. After all, we canít have players really fighting each other. But most of what you do in the game is real. You wonít be playing in a system, or battling sets of game stats. You will be surviving in a world of real people, friends and enemies. Youíll really negotiate with other characters, youíll really have to decide whom to trust, youíll really have to watch your back, and the decisions you make will affect the course of the game.

Try to play in character. Try to remember that this is only a game and try not to become upset if things do not go your way.

Strategy Hints

These are general hints and are provided to help you get the best out of the game. They are not meant to be followed slavishly.
  • Read your character sheet carefully well in advance of the game. Re-read it about an hour or so before the game to refresh your memory.

  • Try to meet and talk with every other player in the game. It will always pay off.

  • Learn where your strengths and weaknesses are. These can often be hidden. Good fighting abilities, information or strong friends are all valuable assets. Hidden weaknesses can include other characters who know your secrets, or goals that will bring you into conflict with others.

  • Donít play alone. There is only so much you can accomplish by yourself. Conspiracies can change the world.

  • Information is the most valuable commodity in the game.

  • Add Intrigue to the game. Do not limit yourself to the goals and motivations you are given at the start. Take control. Make new friends and enemies. Get involved in everything that is going on and put your own characterís spin on it. Dedicate yourself to finding out what everyone else is doing. Then find a way for your character to benefit from it all. Create your own plots and then involve other players.

  • Stay in character as much as possible.

  • Roleplay, Roleplay, Roleplay.

  • If you run into a dead end, donít beat your head against it for too long. There are probably other ways to do what you want. For example, if a person doesnít want to give you what you want, it doesnít pay to hang around begging. Look for a way to get it by force, or by leverage, or find another source for what you want, or another way to do whatever it is you want to do.

  • If youíre angry or frustrated, you may just need to take a break.

  • Keep an eye out for other players who look bored. This may mean that they have either accomplished all their goals or theyíre getting discouraged. If you need help, perhaps to solve a puzzle or to keep an eye on someone, a bored player may be your perfect assistant. Even if they canít help you, find something for them to do Ė even if you have to invent something.

  • Donít debate the rules. As much as possible keep the rules from interfering with the game.

  • Enjoy the surprises. They are coming. Be ready for them. Other players may plot against you without your knowledge Ė so donít be upset when the trap is sprung. Enjoy the moment.
Above all, remember that this is a game. Enjoy yourself!

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