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2.10 Monitoring Role Play

The primary responsibility of monitors is facilitating role play. In general, this means planting the seeds of plots and storylines, observing role play scenes when appropriate, acting as a disinterested witness as needed, and adjudicating disputes about the rules or the scene itself.

Sometimes a monitor may call for a prove or roll: Able says he's going to perform a song to distract the patrons of an inn while Cain does something sneaky. If the players don't suggest it, the monitor might in this case ask Able to make a roll against his Singing skill: failure would indicate that his song failed to engage the audience's attention, and they are just as likely to notice what Cain is doing as they would have been otherwise.

For interaction between player characters, the monitor should call for proves or rolls as seldom as possible. Argo is meant to be a supplement to consensual role play; people have been partipating in TinyPlots for years without chargen/combat systems. If Cain and Able decide that a fight between them would be a fitting plot development, and that Cain should win the fight, they should be allowed to act out the fight as in a traditional TP, arriving at the predetermined outcome. However, if Cain wants to hit Able with a Very Large Stick, and Able agrees OOC that Cain could hit him, but does not in the least want to be hit, the monitor can suggest that Cain roll to hit Able using the combat system. If both Cain and Able want to fight using the combat system, fine.

If players agree ahead of time to use Argo commands to arbitrate the outcome of events, they should abide by the results, and the monitor should enforce this. Simply asking them to do so should be sufficient. If a player refuses to cooperate, the monitor can penalize him or her by awarding negative experience points, or — in more extreme cases — with the +suspend command, discussed below.

In general, players should pose and say what they're doing before rolling the outcome, and then react appropriately. Otherwise they can make the roll and say it was for something important or dangerous if it succeeded, or say it was for something relatively trivial if it failed. Some rolls should be made only to the monitor. For example, Cain might want to make a Sleight of Hand roll against Able, trying to covertly palm the ace of spades. If he successfully palmed the card, Able wouldn't know anything had happened. In such a case, Cain could whisper his intention to the monitor and then make the roll, showing the results to only himself and the monitor (+roll slight of hand vs able to Mistral). If the roll succeeds, Cain successfully palmed the card: he and the monitor know this, but Able does not. If the roll fails, his action was noticable and he should pose something appropriate.

Occasionally a modified roll will be appropriate: the intended action is unusually easy or difficult. If Cain has Lockpicking skill, and wants to pick a lock but is in an area with a higher tech level than his own, the monitor might decide that his roll should be made at a minus, the amount depending on the difference in tech levels. If Cain were in an area with a tech level lower than his own, the roll might be given a plus.

Two staff commands will at times be needed in this context: +unapprove and +suspend.

Internally, these commands work similarly, but their effects are very different. The important thing to remember is that +unapprove is good while +suspend is bad.

+unapprove leaves all Argo values unchanged, but returns the character to `new player' status, allowing him to lower stat or skill levels, to improve stats at the new-player rate, and to purchase advantages and disadvantages. It would be appropriate to use +unapprove when a just-approved character changes his mind about something, and would like to adjust it without redoing everything. Another appropriate use of +unapprove would be to allow a player to gain an advantage because of IC developments: unapproving the character allows him to purchase the advantage by paying the appropriate number of points. An unapproved character must be reapproved before he can use Argo commands.

+suspend is another displinary tool. A suspended character's Argo values and possessions are left intact, but the player cannot use Argo commands and accrues no experience. The +suspend command should be used when a player's use of the system is clearly inappropriate, and the monitor to decides to either impose a temporary penalty or to `de-activate' the character until able to confer with other staff members. The +approve command takes the player off suspension.

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