Maelstrom House Rules
The Purpose of Maelstrom is to create a space for players to invest in a world in an engaging and interesting way, creating connections and relationships for their Contractors to explore.
Contractor Creation Rules
- Contractors may take no more than 21 EXP of Liabilities or Assets. Brand new Players are highly encouraged to take even less. Going over this limit requires Playgroup Leader approval.
- Contractors cannot be direct ripoffs of pop-culture concepts, to the point that NPCs in-game would notice the similarity. For example: you may play a heroic strong-man, but not Superman. A famous weapons-developer, but not Iron Man.
- Contractors may not start out as a concept that is likely to disrupt Contracts (e.g. being a walking, talking fox, being as notorious as Osama bin Laden, having a bomb in their chest that detonates when they die, etc).
- Contractors are mundane people who would see their ambitions through regardless of access to powers. That is why a Harbinger offers Gifts, and why they are willing to risk their lives for the power to make their dreams come true. Your Ambition must be a core driver to your character's actions, is a large point of tension for their story, and is likely to get them into trouble. Craft your Ambition carefully and be open to suggestions and changes from Playgroup Leaders in order nail it.
- Keep in mind, however, that Ambitions can (and will) change over time as your Contractor develops. It's simply part of character development! No matter what, Ambitions are why a Contractor risks their life continuing to participate in Contracts.
- New Contractors must be submitted for approval in The Contract Discord server, channel #maelstrom-approvals, before their first game.
- An Approved Contractor must be given either an Inciting Incident Loose End (Usually in the form of a unique intro run by a World Leader or Approved GM) or a Starting Condition/Circumstance that takes the form of a low-value Social/Background Liability that connects the Contractor with the world. The Player and a World Leader/Approved GM should have a conversation about this before the Contractor's first game.
- Interacting with Loose Ends, Conditions, and/or Circumstances require Moves between games to be cleared. This connects your contractor with the world in some tangible way.
- Solving an Inciting Incident usually begets in-game benefits for the added complexity. Solving a Starting Condition/Circumstance is usually simpler, but does not have the same expectation of reward.
Maelstrom Contractor Limits
- In order to facilitate more focused character concepts, Maelstrom has a hard limit on the number of Newbies and Novices that a Player can keep active. Any character housed in the Playgroup is considered active. Remove them from the Playgroup if they are no longer in-play. Moving Contractors back into the Playgroup requires Leader Approval. Maelstrom is not a parking lot, please do not treat it as such. At Maximum, a Player can only have 2 Newbies and 3 Novices active in Maelstrom at once.
- At the end of every Newbie and Novice game, Players will be assigned a question or two about their Contractor's background that they must answer before they participate in their next game. These answers will be stored in the Biography section, and will often be relevant to their current situation in-game. Use this creative freedom responsibly.
Power Creation Rules
- Flavorful Powers: Manifested Gifts must be in-line with Character Concepts and require World Leader approval. Powers in the Health category are most likely to be watched. This encourages networking between other Contractors and NPCs when healing and curing is required.
- Logical Flavor: Players must be able to explain how and why their power works in a given situation, otherwise GMs have license to cause them to fail. For example, a Blast flavored as a ball of fire might not work underwater. But at the same time, that same Blast power might do extra damage to enemies vulnerable to fire. GMs always have final say, but must remember to make Powers feel powerful.
- Active Players are expected to GM Contracts from time to time. If you have played as a Contractor in your most recent six Maelstrom Contracts, you are barred from playing in Maelstrom again until you GM a Contract yourself, unless you are attending the game of a GM who is fulfilling Citizenship Requirement themselves.
Loose Ends in Maelstrom
- Treacherous Loose Ends: A Contractor who waits for a Loose End's threat to manifest without taking any precautions against it during their Downtimes will see the threat revealing itself at the worst possible moment during downtime. Ask Approved GMs and Playgroup Leaders for Moves to help control Loose Ends before they control you.
- Neutral/Unknown Loose Ends: Some Loose Ends are Unknown, meaning that they give the *Player* a hint of moving parts behind the scenes, but not necessarily the *Character*. A Neutral Loose End usually means that the dangers or benefits of the Loose End are obscured or up to the Character's actions once it manifests. Neutral Loose Ends also may or may not be known to the Contractor.
- Investments: Some Loose Ends bestow benefits at the end of their clock. Investments are usually rewards for Moves and Hustles, but might come from other sources as well. Ask Approved GMs and Playgroup Leaders for Moves to further your Contractor's goals.
Notes on GMing in Maelstrom
- All members of Maelstrom are encouraged to GM and run Moves, and no approval is required. Custom Scenarios likewise do not require pre-approval.
- By default, you cannot run Games or Moves for a tier that you have not played in yourself. For example, if you would like to run a Novice game, but have never played a Novice game, you must wait until you have had some experience in Novice as a Player.
- Use GM Notes! This is a place to provide more detail about Circumstances, Conditions, and Loose Ends as well as important developments behind the scenes. Good GM notes makes it easier to run relevant Contracts and Moves for characters.
- Keep intros concise during game time. If you want to run more extensive introductions, try to do it before playtime. Players, in general, should not need to be wheeled-and-dealed to agree to a Contract. A simple Letter sent to them should suffice.
- World Leaders are there to help. Spoil them on Scenarios, get feedback, ask them questions.
- In general, Contracts and Moves are subject to an "Exposure" criteria, especially when it comes to posted World Events. Contractors in higher Gift ranges have more freedom to affect the playgroup as a whole. At Newbie/Novice, however, the outcomes games will not ever have an international reach. Though Contractors might _remember_ terrible things happening during their Contract, World Events might be scaled back due to meddling from The Powers That Be.
- Don't take it personally if your World Event gets edited by a Playgroup Leader. It's part of the game and our efforts to keep consistent tone within the Playgroup.
- NOTE: Some previous World Events from the Playgroup will be edited or deleted over the coming weeks. When this note has been deleted, assume that all World Events are canon. Until then, ask a World Leader for details.
- GMs are encouraged to build interesting, consistent locations for Contractors to explore through Contracts and Moves. Talk to a Playgroup Leader about location development, they are happy to delegate the development of content.