Must avoid policy
In situations where participants have a significant disagreement with each other, then one or both parties may request a must-avoid ruling. This restriction applies equally to both parties regardless of which party raised the complaint. The policy is designed to allow both parties to enjoy the event as far as possible, with the hope of minimizing contact.
- Minimize social contact between participants
The must-avoid policy does not prevent accidental contact between parties - the aim is to minimize social contact between two players who do not wish to interact, so that the players involved do not have to talk to each other or spend time in each other's company.
Avoid Each Other
The basic principle is that the affected players should make all reasonable efforts to avoid close social contact with the other player. They should not initiate contact or conversation and should actively avoid camps and tents if the other player is present, regardless of the IC situation. The only exceptions to this are discussed below. A camp should be understood to refer to the camp of a group of players, it does not mean an entire nation camp. Players under this prohibition are expected to avoid the other players personal camp, and their group's camp unless they are certain the player is not present, they are not required to avoid the entire nation camp where the other player is based.
These rules always apply equally to both parties - in effect whoever is already present and roleplaying in a camp has the right to remain there, the player who has just arrived should make their excuses and leave the area. Accidental contact is possible - but we expect the party that has arrived to follow the spirit of this rule and depart the area quickly and with the minimum of fuss.
Players who have been instructed to avoid each other should make all reasonable efforts to avoid coming into IC conflict with the other party's character. Such characters should not pretend they are friends, but it is not appropriate to seek to have the other party killed or to try to damage their political fortunes, even if the possibility exists to do so without physically encountering the other character.
The basic principle behind the must avoid policy is that both players should endeavour to ensure that one player is not driven by IC factors to come into contact with the other.
Imperial Game Areas
The above rules cover interactions in the tents and camps at Anvil, less stringent rules apply to communal game areas like the Senate or the Hall of Worlds. It is not possible for two players to avoid the other player's location if they are both senators. Likewise, magicians who are members of the Conclave cannot avoid being in the same tent during Conclave meetings. Some of these "Imperial" locations, such as the Hub, the Conclave, and the Synod are sufficiently large that players can use the area at the same time, provided they make every effort to avoid conversation and close proximity.
For example, if two senators must avoid each other then they can stand at opposite sides of the Senate chamber. Even two magicians who are members of the same Conclave order can still make a reasonable effort to keep their distance from each other during a Conclave session.
In these situations players are still expected to avoid close contact and direct conversation with each other. A magician in the Conclave may address the chamber, but they cannot go over to talk directly to another player that they have been instructed to avoid.
Encounters outside Anvil, such as audiences with eternals or quests are covered by the standard rules for IC interactions - players involved should make all practical efforts to avoid being on the same quest or in the same audience at the same time. Most audiences with eternals are designed so that characters involved can attend in separate groups at separate times - meetings of these kind should be considered equivalent to a group tent or camp. A few audiences are designed to be longer and involve all involved characters simultaneously. These audiences are covered by the rules for Imperial game areas.
Following the Rules
If a player is encountering any difficult avoiding another player they have been asked to avoid, or if they wish guidance on how this applies in a specific circumstance then they should raise that matter with a member of Profound Decisions as soon as possible. If a player feels that the other party is not following the spirit of the rules and making all reasonable efforts to avoid the other party, then they should report this to Profound Decisions as quickly as possible. We regard any breach of these rules as very significant: a deliberate violation is likely to result in a player receiving a permanent ban from all events.
Spirit of the Rules
In theory it might be possible for an individual to attempt to keep to the letter of the rule and avoid the spirit of it; there are situations where people can feel threatened by an individual simply by their persistent close presence, even if they are not attempting to initiate conversation or make eye contact. In practice this is why we try to keep the wording of this rule fairly simple and not tie it down in knots - it's not meant to be a legal contract - we're simply asking both parties to make a reasonable effort to stay out of the other person's way. If we felt that a situation had developed where one party had attempted to follow the letter of the law rather than the spirit of it - then we treat that as breaking the ruling.
The rules for conduct cover all online spaces dedicated to the Empire campaign that are moderated by Profound Decisions. To keep within the spirit of the rules, all participants should avoid commenting on threads started by a participant they must avoid (and vice versa) where possible. We also expect people to refrain from sending emails, private messages, or texts to the other party unless there is a legitimate need to do so. Contacting another party online, after being asked to avoid them, is a violation of these rules.
Profound Decisions do not discuss any complaints raised with us with other players or LRP groups, nor do we confirm or deny any rulings that we have issued. Where a complaint is brought to us, we will inform the original player of the outcome of the complaint but we will not discuss the matter with any other party. We take this approach partly to protect the privacy of players - those making a complaint and those who are the subject of one - and because we do not wish to have the additional burden of proof imposed by knowing that our rulings could be adopted by other LRP systems. We believe that both of these outcomes would damage our ability to provide the best possible protection to players attending our events.
Disagreements between players may be based on disagreements that are exceptionally serious in nature - or relatively minor. The conflict may be caused by actions from both parties or the fault may lie solely with one side. The behaviour may have happened at our event - or it may be a historic problem that happened weeks, months, or years earlier. Practical experience has shown that it is often impossible for Profound Decisions to investigate these matters successfully, particularly when they involve incidents that took place outside our events or where there are no eye-witnesses.
Our goal is to protect participants and allow them to enjoy the event even when we cannot identify who is to blame. The policy is impartial - applying equally to both parties - precisely so that it can be accessed by the complainant who does not have supporting evidence. We use an evidence-based approach to our complaints, so a higher burden of proof is required to identify a culpable party and reprimand or ban them. Precisely because it is impartial, this policy is an option available to a player even when they are not able to provide evidence to support a formal complaint.
Because a must avoid order applies to both parties and does not constitute an official warning, it does not give rise to any further official action. Affected participants can continue to attend events, to carry out any crewing or other volunteer responsibilities that they held previously, and to be active online.
Where practical, we will look to avoid promoting anyone under a must avoid order outside their usual position in the PD community if that would bring them into increased contact or visibility with any participants they have been instructed to avoid.