Why “Forthright Open Roleplay”?

By | February 8, 2014

Hello and welcome back to the all-new Room 209 Gaming website!

Here you’ll find art galleries featuring some of the art from the game, as well as the first nine chapters of the beta rules all in a beautiful new package. Commenting on posts is now available and welcomed, though you’ll need to sign in via Facebook or Google+ in order to leave a comment – we did this because we were getting a lot of spam traffic and, as a three-person company, we just didn’t have the personnel to monitor and clean spam.

I’d like to thank Sarah for her work in getting the new site configured, this is a huge improvement over our old site and she really deserves a round of applause for it.  I think it looks just absolutely fantastic. I also want to thank Ray for helping keep the project on-course, and for the numerous editing passes he’s done on the beta materials you’ll find here.

We’ve updated our old company logo with a fresh new logo created by Keith Slawson of Digital Kid Production & Design.  Keith is an amazing creator, and evolved our old d209 logo into the polished logo you see in the upper-left of the page.  He took the silhouette of a d20 and merged it with the idea of a door opening into a new world.  This very much fits our philosophy as a company: we want to open new doors to roleplayers with our products, and introduce people to roleplaying who might otherwise be daunted by it.  Keith merged those ideas together very nicely, and we’re as proud of our new company logo as we are of the logo for Forthright Open Roleplay, which Keith also designed.


Why Forthright Open Roleplay?

After our time at the Escapist Expo 2013, we were no longer satisfied with the name Infinite Earths.  We’d long had people getting it confused with Steve Jackson Game’s Infinite Worlds, and it also shared some history with DC Comics’ Crisis on Infinite Earths.  We had been considering a name change for the system for quite some time, but we just couldn’t find a name that we liked better.  At Escapist Expo, another aspect of the name hit us: it just didn’t resonate.  We watched folks come into Games On Demand and look over the offerings, get an explanation of what Infinite Earths was, then ask seconds later what the name of the game was again, or just use a variation of the name (Infinity, Infinite Worlds, etc).  We knew we had to change the name.

The process was a long and difficult one which Keith, with his experience in branding, helped shepherd us through.  We had a frontrunner for awhile that was “good enough,” but it didn’t really light any of us up.  But then we came up with Forthright Open Roleplay, and it stuck.  So why did we like that name so much, and what does it mean?

Forthright speaks to directness, honesty, and straightforwardness.  Open allows access, exposure and choice.  Roleplay is about experiencing viewpoints other than your own through the performance of a role.

As we developed first Infinite Earths and now Forthright, one major concern has been simplicity and clarity of the rules.  We wanted our rule system to be very direct, so that each rule is a full encapsulation of an effect rather than the start of a chain of effects.  For example, when a character reaches 0 “hit points” (called Vitality), that character is defeatedshe is no longer involved in the combat.  That does not also mean she is unconscious and prone.  That character could, for all intents and purposes, be standing there gasping for air with her hands on her knees.  This emphasis on non-algebraic rules reduces the requirement of “system mastery” in order to play the game, which in turn opens the game up to be played by folks who are not experts and would be daunted by an expertise requirement.

In addition to clarity, we wanted our rules to emphasize choice.  Players have a lot of choices they can make – we have worked to cultivate meaningful choice throughout both character creation and play.  The choices that Players and Guides make when building characters, interacting with NPCs, and experiencing adventures are crucial to determining the direction of their story.

That freedom of choice is expressed in the story of the game as well.  Like traditional roleplaying games, Forthright is open-ended.  There is no specific endpoint defined for the game, story or characters established by the rules.  Players can define their own goals and attempt to achieve them.  Each story with every gaming group is going to be different, and most of that is based on the consequences of the roleplaying choices the players make – will they help, hinder or ignore the events going on around them?  Which whom will they choose to stand?  A large part of the fun of a game of Forthright is, in fact, seeing the results of the actions you take as players.

Because while Players are in control of their characters, and Guides are in control of the gamespace, no one is in control of the story.  This is in part due to open-rolling.  All die rolls, including the Guide’s, are made where everyone can see the results.  Difficulties are announced ahead of rolls and results are binary (succeed/fail), so there is no “fudging” of the results.  This enforces a more emergent style of roleplay, wherein Players and Guide alike must react to the results of the die and build the story from there.

In that way, the story is open because no one ever knows where it’s going.  The Guide can only guide, he cannot plot.  There is no 17th-level wizard waiting in the rafters to zap you back onto the railroad.

Of course, that structure also means that players themselves must be open to the positive and negative aspects of emergent play.  They must be ready for things to not go the way they had planned, and to have to be clever and adapt on the fly to an ever-changing situation.  Guides must be ready for that, too.  Because in Forthright Open Roleplay, stories are crafted as you go, they are not already present and waiting for the players to step room-by-room through them.

And finally, the game is open-source.  Once we have completed the game, we will be releasing it with a Creative Commons license.  We have always been a believer in the rules being free, and we stand by that promise.

Thanks for stopping by and having a look, and thanks for reading!  We hope you like our new name and look!

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