Rules for Play
Main article: Character Creation Guide
Before you get started, it’s important to keep a few community rules in mind, and to get a sense of what kind of environment — OOC and IC — Thorns is. See also OOC Etiquette.
Our focus on Thorns is narrative, collaborative storytelling. While we do have some aspects of a roleplaying "game," we're more interested in character development and improving/experimenting as writers.
We highly recommend first visiting our Discord to say hello, ask your questions, and get a feel for our community. It's also suggested you take a peek at our most recent, active threads to see what kind of writers are here and the stories that are being written.
- 1 Playing Well With Others
- 2 Registration and Character Details
- 3 Portrayals
- 4 Application Process
- 5 Graphics and Aesthetics
- 6 Activity
- 7 Basic Posting Rules
- 8 Setting & Timeline
- 9 On Locations
- 10 On Moderation
- 11 A Bigger Note on Godmodding
- 12 On Dice
- 13 Thread Markup
Playing Well With Others
As much as we assume everyone comes to Thorns with good intentions, we also understand that everyone has issues. It's our goal to be welcoming, compassionate, and forgiving, to get along and assume the best, and we see moderation and discipline as a last resort.
A forum-based roleplaying environment is not meant to replace proper counseling, nor are administrators and players at all obligated to be your caregivers or mental health representatives. Please be respectful of the boundaries of others and keep abreast of your own need to seek treatment or help.
Here are some key tenants to playing well on Thorns:
- Be involved! Let us know what you want to write about and check out what other people are involved in.
- No means no. IC, OOC, and anywhere in between, respecting boundaries is an important community foundation. Players reserve the right to refuse to write with someone for any reason, and we expect respectfulness when it comes to boundaries about all subjects, not just mature ones, in writing with other members.
- We take manipulative behavior seriously.
- Communication is key.
- Resolve conflict respectfully. Do not hesitate to get administrators involved if your private conversation with another member doesn't resolve an issue.
- Tone and wording are important.
- Do not talk back to staff.
Registration and Character Details
- Create an Out of Character (OOC) account with whatever your comfortable internet handle may be. It's our request that this Writer's Account name match your Discord handle in the Thorns Discord Server, just for our sanity.
- We encourage folks to fill out a Writer Profile.
- When you're ready to create a Character account, you must register a new account, preferrably with that character's first and last name in proper case, though we understand that some characters may go by different conventions due to character-related reasons; please make sure that this decision is approved by administrators before registration.
- Check the member list to make sure your chosen (full) name has not been taken already. We don't mind the overlap of same first names, so don't worry too much about that. Please note your character's intended nationality and race and check our Naming Conventions before registering your account.
- There are no ratios to adhere to.
- There is no hard character limit, but we ask you use your best judgment and consider your activity level before creating new characters.
We welcome all manner of character portrayals, or, as we tend to call them here, face claims: properly-credited character art, original character art, living actors, actresses, and agency-signed models. We do not accept improperly credited artwork. Please keep in mind the Genetics and Appearances of the various races and nationalities that live on Vita.
If you are in need of assistance for a specific face claim, direct your questions to the #questions-and-answers channel on the site Discord.
The application process requires that you fill out a character application. Please follow the Character Creation Guide and use the provided templates.
We ask that you use proper capitalization and grammar in your character sheet.
The administrative team will do their best for a satisfactory turnaround for application review, but please be patient if the review period takes longer than anticipated.
Graphics and Aesthetics
To your best ability, please use high-quality images for your character graphics. We recommend using higher proportional size than the listed dimensions so the image will retain quality upon scaling. The dimensions are listed below:
- Forum Avatar: 200 x 300, 150dpi
- Cast of Characters: 300 x 450, 150dpi
The Cast of Characters image will have a filter applied to them on the site, so they do not need to be black and white beforehand.
We do not have an extensive style guide, but Thorns as a forum has been carefully designed to not require fancy templates for posting. We ask that you be considerate with your posting templates. Fonts of legible size, colors that are easy to read and do not contrast in a visually painful way are all examples of being respectful with your aesthetic choices.
You are welcome to create your own BBCode templates and there are several free to modify examples on the Aesthetics and Design forum itself, but please refrain from excessive design choices that do not break well on mobile or contain animated gifs or flashing animations of any kind.
If you require any sort of graphic assistance, feel free to ask in the #need-help-send-formatting channel of our Discord.
Real life comes first. We have lives and you can, too. If you're looking for rapid-fire posting or even three or four posts a day from your partners consistently, this is probably not the forum for you. Our players range from a couple posts per day to a post per week. We're rather low key and relaxed; we would prefer it if you're relaxed about it, too.
If you anticipate an absence that will affect your availability, please post a thread in the absence forum and/or communicate via Discord to let us know.
If you haven't written an in-character post with at least one character within the past three-month season, a private message will be sent to you about the archiving of your character(s). This doesn't apply to players who have notified an administrator or left a notice of absence. Archiving is always a reversible process!
Be an active part of the group! Don't wait for other players to come to you—approach them as well. While the administrators will do all they can to integrate you within the story, placing yourself into the community is also your responsibility.
Basic Posting Rules
- Be readable. We don't have word count requirements and while the English language is difficult for even native speakers, we welcome ESL writers with open arms. We do ask that your grasp of English gammar and spelling is consistently readable.
- Tense. We as a writing community here on Thorns generally write in the past tense, with a single character perspective. We welcome experimental writing, however, and our only rule here is to ask your writing partner what they're comfortable with first!
- Word Count. We do not have a minimum or maximum word count requirement. We do, however, have an expectation that each player gives their writing partner(s) enough content to work with in the form of a reply. Please make sure your responses are productive. We highly recommend communicating with your fellow roleplayers prior to starting a thread in the #plotting channel of our Discord as well as keeping up regular conversation with who you're writing with to determine preferences and pacing as well as content.
- No godmodding. You are in control of your character and your character only. This seems as though it should go without saying, and while there are exceptions (if you've communicated with your partner ahead of time, etc.). It's better not to assume the actions of anyone else or make definitive statements about your PC's actions.
- Actions have consequences. Just like in real life, here in the world of Vita, in-character actions have in-game consequences. We'd like to think that this is the fun part of the immersive writing experience. It is our hope that you take our setting seriously, and while we want to encourage you to write the stories you're hoping for, keep in mind that metagaming isn't usually all that much fun. As much as you might know your character isn't going to hang from the gallows for getting caught assisting in a Resistance attack, your character themselves doesn't!
Setting & Timeline
The basic Thorns premise is set in a Victorian-like non-earth world called Vita. It is, in some ways, rather similar to our late nineteenth-century earth but in many ways is also very different. While our lore on the wiki is very extensive and may seem intimidating, we are here to assure you that you don't need to memorize it to play.
Thorns draws inspiration from the final decade of the nineteenth century for technology, culture, and politics but it is not bound to these constraints in all respects. In the Kingdom of Anaxas, you may find influences from Victorian (and Edwardian) England, but also a bit of late nineteenth century Russia and la Belle Époque.
That said, it is very important that we emphasize Thorns is an original fantasy. Sentient magic, a lack of colonialism, and a very unique religious landscape have shaped the world of Vita to be nothing like earth where we live in many ways. We ask you to keep this in mind as you familiarize yourself with the lore so that you're not attempting to merely reproduce Victorian England, but we encourage you to ask questions and make your own development contributions!
About Fluid Time
The forum runs on fluid time, which means that our calendar progresses in a predictable and regular manner but you are free to thread anywhere within the timeline in or prior to the current season. Be mindful of what happened when and try to keep in mind the possible consequences of writing in the past and/or not taking into account the past in your present.
While we're quite flexible about these things and totally willing to work with you if you need to retcon something to make your player plots work the way you'd rather see them flow, we encourage you to work things out with your writing partners.
We ask that players keep major in game and in character events in mind. Unless you absolutely have permission from the staff, do not do anything that would cause major change in the world at any time, such as assassinating a major political figure or causing a major disaster. While we're totally happy to facilitate that (who knows, we may have been planning it ourselves and now you're willing to get the job done for us!), we need to be warned and make sure it's lore-compliant. Please discuss with the administrators your major ideas and we will certainly try to work with your big plot ideas and goals, especially making sure that other players can get involved, too!
All threads written prior to 2719 are considered a Memory thread. Please remember to precede your thread title with [Memory].
While Thorns' Geography includes all of the Ten Kingdoms, currently most of the action is taking place in Anaxas. It is our best advice to you as a player that you give your characters a reason to be in Anaxas often or you may find yourself struggling to have anyone to write with.
Your characters are welcome to be from, spend some time in, and or go to any of the open Six Kingdoms. Please, populate those places and invite your friends! Characters go on vacation, visit family, explore mysterious places, and much more. Currently, politicians and their attachments as well as those who merely wish to spectate have flocked to Mugroba's capital, Thul Ka, for two months of the year, now that it is the seat of the Symvoulio.
Currently, the Lost Kingdoms of Roannah, Shotha, Vezzea, and Naulanon are closed for play. They are either destroyed, dangerous, or inaccessible to the general populace of the Six Kingdoms. However, this is open to change both through moderator-led story expansion as well as player development. If you'd like to suggest an expedition of your own, well, plenty of our Main Chapter plots might be converging on some of these forbidden places in the future, so do get in touch with an administrator if you're interested.
It's our preference here on Thorns to not be a heavily-moderated forum. We want to give you narrative freedom to explore your characters' storylines as well as explore the carefully crafted (and open to player-led development) world. However, we have a few caveats:
If you're unsure, please ask first. We prefer asking permission instead of asking forgiveness. You have free reign with otherwise-unspecified NPCs within reason and can certainly make up your own. You don't have to ask a moderator to cast a spell, buy an object, etc. However, if you're unsure about how an NPC should act or how to use magic in general, ask!
If your character is going to go on a murder spree, please ask permission. Your story isn't taking place in a well-designed vacuum; the world is one with many far-reaching consequences. You never know how other players may want to be involved.
With magic, especially, it's important to communicate with staff. New players who aren't familiar with how Vita's sentient magical particals, the mona, shouldn't be writing about complicated magic until you're comfortable with what it does and doesn't do within the boundaries of the lore.
A Bigger Note on Godmodding
Thorns is not a competitive game.
Most of our members are more interested in relationships and drama between their characters, "slice of life" stories, and politics than player-versus-player combat. We may seek conflict as part of our narrative, but we are not a forum that focuses on besting other characters in any way, shape, or form. While there is Magical Dueling, even it exists as a storytelling device instead of pure competition.
If you're here because you look at collaborative writing as a game you can win, you will find yourself without writing partners very quickly. There is no need to be the master of everything; imperfections and weaknesses are what make our characters better, not worse, anyway.
A powerful Magister is no more rewarding than a young human urchin here on Thorns.
If you're going to engage in any kind of combat, physical or magical, outside of dueling, we recommend you determine the outcome OOC and/or with dice rolling before you and other writers involved begin writing. It's suggested you make yourself comfortable with the idea that it doesn't matter who wins or who loses.
Because there is no competitive PvP and there are no real stats that need to be leveled up in a way that is entirely meaningful, remember that rolling dice to determine outcome is a narrative device.
We have a channel in Discord specifically for dice rolls and we use it to determine the unpredictable IC situations, to give direction for magic spells, to spice things up a little, and/or to simulate danger. Sometimes, the writing prompt is really just what you needed!
This especially goes for Magic of any kind, however. We encourage you to roll for spellcasting. Because magic is governed by the Mona, or sentient, invisible particles that sorcerers speak to and have living, active relationships with in order to manipulate the world around them, we roll dice to simulate the mona having their own minds and unpredictable minds at that. Pre-planning some magic is also entirely welcome—sometimes a backlash is just what your story is about.
Because of our fluid timeline and gameplay factors, a thread marking system is necessary. We use this in our titles in combination with our thread tag requirements (see below). Please use these indicators before your thread title if they apply:
- [Memory] for events set in the past.
- [Open] for open threads. These are threads anyone can join.
- [Closed] for closed threads meant to be written between predetermined characters. These threads have been plotted out between two or three players and aren't open to anyone else.
- [PM to Join] for threads you may welcome additional characters into if they PM you their interest. These are threads in which you can't post in them without asking first—please get in touch with the thread participants to see how you can be involved.
- [Mature] for threads with mature content. These threads contain mature content, including mentions of or explicit sex. This is subjective; if you're asked by staff to tag a thread mature, even if you don't feel the content constitutes that label, please do so.
Similarly, if your post contains sensitive content, please use your best judgment and tag the trigger(s) in the tag section of the first post as needed. This can be edited as your thread continues.
Important: Tags can only be edited in the first post!
Tagging Your Threads
The tag section of a new thread is an important section. Within that section, please make sure to add the following tags:
- Type of thread (see above)
- Year (in YYYY) format. All current threads are in 2720
- Month Year (in Month YYYY) format, for example, Dentis 2720
- Full date (in DD-MM-YYYY format, with dashes). For example, 34-7-2718 is the 34th of Dentis 2718.
- Full name of all characters involved (or the name which you wish to be linked to via tag, as some characters go by a moniker different than their full name).
- Plot keyword. Is your thread part of a story arch to which you've given it a plotter entry? If so, use the 3-word title.
- If your thread is Mature and/or contains potentially triggering situations, please use Trigger Warning tags. These are formatted: TW-warning type. Examples include: TW-Self Harm, TW-Sexual Situations TW-Torture