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New Player Guide

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Although you can theoretically get all you need to know to play the game from just reading the ruleset, this is a more informal guide to how the game works.

What is Nomic?

Nomic is a game where changing the rules is part of the game; players can suggest changes to the rules they're playing under, and vote on whether or not to adopt those changes. The original game of Nomic was invented in 1982 as a pen-and-paper tabletop game, but is well-suited to being played online, where it's easy to keep an unambiguous record of the rules and proposals, and where it's possible to play the game more slowly, over a period of days or weeks.

How does BlogNomic work?

We have a Ruleset that, at any given moment, tells players exactly how to play the game. It's divided into three sections - the Core Rules (which are the basic ground rules for making proposals and voting on them), the Dynastic Rules (which are the ones that change from round to round, and have a different genre theme each round) and the Appendix (which does what you'd expect, defining a few terms in more detail and clarifying some nitpicking details).

The Core Rules are fairly detailed, as they need to be watertight, but they don't tend to change much - when we play a round of BlogNomic, we just create and alter the Dynastic Rules. (If we want to change the Core Rules for just one round - if we want to change the way that voting works, for a particular theme - we can just have a Dynastic Rule that overrules the Core Rules.)

The basic process the Core Rules describe can be summarised (without meaning to be exhaustive) as:-

  • BlogNomic has players, who have to follow the rules. All of the players are signed up members of the BlogNomic blog, allowing them to make new posts and comment on them. Some of the players are "admins", and it's their job to process proposals and do other housekeeping tasks.
  • Players can go "idle" if they want to leave the game or take a break from it; this takes them out of play, and they can come back later. (If you don't post a comment for seven whole days, we'll assume you aren't playing any more and will set you idle automatically.)
  • Each round of BlogNomic is a "dynasty", and has a separate theme (like "zombies" or "the Odyssey"). When somebody wins the game, we start a new dynasty and that player gets to pick the new theme. They get to be in charge of the new round, as its "Emperor" (although we use a theme-specific term each dynasty, like "CEO" or "Tribal Leader").
  • If you want to make a proposal to change the rules, you post it to the blog as a blog entry, describing the exact changes you want to make. Other players can then discuss and vote on your proposal in comments, by pressing the "FOR" or "AGAINST" buttons (or "DEFERENTIAL" if they want to defer to the Emperor). The Emperor can veto a proposal if they feel strongly that it shouldn't be enacted.
  • As soon as the oldest proposal on the blog has a "quorum" of votes in favour of it (ie. over half the players), it enacts, and we update the ruleset accordingly. A proposal can also enact if it's been open for voting for 48 hours, and it has a majority in favour.
  • If a proposal gets a quorum of votes against it, or if it's vetoed, or if the player who made it changes their mind and votes against it (a "self-kill"), then it fails and nothing happens.
  • Proposals are processed in a queue - it's always the oldest one that passes or fails before the others - so that we know what order everything is going to happen in.
  • If players disagree about the interpretation of the rules, they can raise a "call for judgement" (or "CfJ") for everyone to vote on. This is basically a special type of proposal. If a majority agree, then we carry out whatever the terms of the CfJ were.
  • If somebody thinks they've won the game (there will typically be a way to win defined in the dynastic rules somewhere), they can post a "declaration of victory" to announce this. The game is paused, and the players get to vote on whether they think the win was legal. If more than half the players agree, then that player is declared the winner, and we start a new dynasty, usually blanking all the dynastic rules.

You should try to familiarise yourself with the ruleset - the rules are at the core of every action taken by the players - but you aren't expected to learn them completely and immediately before playing. You're entirely welcome to just lurk, vote and follow the lead of other players for a while, until you feel confident enough to start making your own proposals.

What is the actual game, apart from voting and proposing?

When we start a new dynasty, there is no actual game, there's just the Core Rules telling us how to propose and vote and things. So the dynasty starts by having players some basic ideas to play a game with - perhaps all players have Gold Pieces or a Stress Level, perhaps they have to be affiliated to a Political Party, perhaps there's a Map that they move around on, perhaps we all have a Hunger level which goes down every day unless we eat a Food object.

Once we have a few game variables, and a way to make decisions to change those variables, a game can start to emerge. Over time, this gets more complicated, and after a while someone will suggest a victory condition ("the winner is the first player to get 100 Gold Pieces", "if a Political Party has a majority of players supporting it, the member of that Party with the highest Popularity Score wins").

How does a dynasty end?

A dynasty ends when someone meets the victory condition and posts a "declaration of victory" explaining how they got there. If a majority of other players agree that it was legal, that player wins and we start a new dynasty with them as the "Emperor".

Some dynasties are won through good, solid gameplay - others are won through the longstanding Nomic tradition of a "scam", where a player exploits an unexpected loophole in the ruleset to suddenly achieve the victory condition (maybe the victory condition is "get 100 Gold Pieces", and a player has noticed that they can buy a Nasty Potion for 2gp, drink it, and sell the Empty Bottle for 3gp - repeat for infinite gold!). It might be a loophole that was written accidentally, or it might be one that the player deliberately wrote themselves and hoped nobody would spot when it was being voted on as a proposal. All of this is equally valid - the game of Nomic is all about the writing and obeying of rules, and a clever scam is as admirable as a clever move-by-move win.

Joining the game

Your first act as a player should be to register on the blog, with a name of your choice. Once this is done, you need to jump through a couple more small spammer-foiling hoops, outlined here in the FAQ.

What is the GNDT?

Short for Generic Nomic Data Tracker, the GNDT is a table that shows all players' stats and a list of all changes that have been made to the table and who made those changes. Most rounds of the game end up using it, as it's an easy way to track some game data, but sometimes we use wiki pages as well.

When you join, a GNDT password will be sent to you by an admin via private message or email. Once you have it you can edit any players' stats however the rules allow you to - if a rule says "at any time, a player may spend 2 Dollars to gain 1 Apple", and if those are both GNDT stats, then you can just go in and change your Dollars and Apples values whenever you want to buy an apple.

In addition to tracking stats, the GNDT has a random number generator, which some dynasties use when they want to have a random effect and make sure that every player can see that each die roll is fair. If you want to roll a die in the game, just make a GNDT comment that includes "DICE#" (where "#" is any number), and the results of the die roll will be shown in the log at the side.

How to make a blog post

From the Blognomic home page, click 'Make a New Post', under your username in the sidebar. This link should take you to a form with various fields. These largely explain themselves; 'Title' is the title of the post, 'URL Title' is the title of the URL of the post, which you probably shouldn't touch, 'Body' is the main body of the post. The 'Commentary or flavour text' box under 'Body' is for explanatory text to proposals, which will not be binding if the proposal is enacted; the 'Admin' box is for admins, and you shouldn't touch it (unless you are one, in which case see Admin Manual). The buttons at top right are 'Preview', 'Quick save', and 'Submit'. Do not use the 'Quick save' button; it doesn't do what you think it does. In the body of the page, you can use basic HTML, including links, italic/bold/underlines, and block quotes.

If you are making a Proposal or a Call for Judgement, make sure that you set the correct category. Do this by clicking 'Categories' above the 'Title' field, and selecting the correct item from the list. Do not preface your title with 'Proposal: ' or 'Call for Judgement: '; this is done automatically if you select the category correctly.

If you're creating or amending a rule, which you usually will be, then it's common practice to use the <blockquote> tag to mark the text you're adding or altering. For example.

Create a new rule entitled 'Rule Name', containing the following:

<blockquote>rule text here</blockquote>

or

Replace the section of Rule 'Rule Name' that reads

<blockquote>old rule text here</blockquote>

with the text

<blockquote>new rule text here</blockquote>

How to play well

A survey of players in 2012 asked current and past players "What can the player base at large do to ensure that dynasties are more fun in general?". Some of those answers bear repeating here:-

  • "Vote FOR for Proposals (that are not scammable) if you think they'll make the game more interesting. Propose a lot."
  • "Be creative to help build the game."
  • "Make more proposals and tell the Emperor about problems with the dynasty."
  • "Participate and share ideas"
  • "Participate, give feedback, try and make things work before doing anything else."
  • "Rules. I for one don't come up with many great ideas, but this game is built on its rules. People should try to at least start discussions about future mechanics they think would be fun, and maybe someone else can figure out a way to work it into the current rules."
  • "Support, encourage, and instruct new players; propose rule changes to create a game you think is fun; accept that other players might have different ideas of fun, or have different goals in playing than you do;"
  • "Be bold enough to propose repealing or changing any rule that seems boring. Make some noise if it's getting quiet. Encourage interaction. Keep any rivalry in-character."
  • "Take part of the dynasty. And if they are not enjoying it, make proposals to fix the parts they don't enjoy."

Common proposal pitfalls

Watch out for the few mistakes that everyone makes:-

  • Put your proposal in the "proposal" blog category. You don't have to type "Proposal:" at the start of the proposal title, the blog does that automatically - you instead have to put it in the Proposal category by clicking the Categories tab when you're writing it, and selecting "Proposal". This allows the blog to automate things a bit and put a link to it in the sidebar. It's easy to forget to do this, and the post won't be a legal proposal without it. (If you notice within fifteen minutes and nobody's commented, then you can edit the proposal to put it in the right category; if you're too late, then (per Rule 1.7, para 3), it is illegal to change the category, and you'll have to make a new post instead.)
  • Remember you can only have two proposals pending at once. Even if you've self-killed your first proposal because something was wrong with it, it still counts as "pending" until it's actually failed by an admin.
  • If you're creating a new rule, say that. If you want your proposal to have a continuing effect on gameplay, you should explicitly say that it creates a new rule, and what the text and title of the rule are. (If you don't, the proposal will just happen once and then have no further effect.) Likewise, if you want to amend a rule, say which rule you're amending.
  • You can edit after posting, but not if people have started commenting. You can correct your proposal immediately after posting it, but only until someone has commented on it - at that point the wording locks and you aren't allowed to change it any more. This ensures that we're all voting on and talking about the same thing. If a problem with the proposal gets raised in comments, you (or someone else) will have to make a follow-up proposal to fix it.

Live help discussion

Blognomic now has a Slack instance, which is also a good place for new players to ask for guidance or help--though it does require requesting an invite to join.