Mission Statement


This statement (a revision of a previous email) was sent by email from Ashley Leighton Plom to some of the members of the email chain that had set up Phoenix Roleplaying on 9 August 2010 and and copied to the blog the following day. The formatting is broadly as was, although extra line spaces have been removed. In addition, links to the relevant sims and pages have been added.

Full text

What follows are the ideas Deborah and me bounced off each other on the drive home from the meet up in Portsmouth (which was awesome, thank you again to Nick for hosting and Paul for GMing!!). But all of what I'm writing about here is AMENDABLE and the central notion is one of setting up a truly FAIR AND DEMOCRATIC community for us to enjoy; that this isn't a proprietary creation but is a vision and a way ahead that can be altered or turned from according to what is right.

So here's a summary of Deborah's and my thoughts, with some short-term and some longer-term frameworks, but it's all accountable and none of it a 'Decision' or a 'Ruling' or any other kind of thing like that.

Immediately, we need an voting coordinator. All members can make nominations, all members get a vote.

Once elected, this Voting Coordinator will run an election within the next three months to elect two positions; a Technical Support Coordinator, and an 'administrative/operational' overseer of sorts. I'm reluctant to use the terms 'President' or 'Leader'… Let's use the simple descriptive word Coordinator for now. These two elected Coordinators (the Technical Coordinator and the general Coordinator) would serve an initial term of, shall we say, three months. We could vote by referendum through the Voting Coordinator on how long the next term after that should be (a year?).

The Technical Support Coordinator's and the general Coordinator's roles will be twofold. First, we want to keep getting sims opened on the new temporary forum and we want to act on discussion on the forums, and second we want to find a proper site to serve as our permanent home. So the Coordinator will be overseeing both these processes, the Technical Support Coordinator will be handling the technical side of things - running the technical side of the current forum and planning the programming etc. for our future site.

The two elected Coordinators will build teams of people according to need. What I mean is we're not going to have permanent positions like 'Stores Master' or 'Advertising Coordinator' which will stand empty for ages; rather we're going to facilitate dynamic growth by identifying needs and then having people meet those needs.

Remember this is all interim. We need to get things rolling now, and we need elections as soon as possible to get things representative. And we need ongoing fairness and sharing of ideas if this is going to last in the long term.

We have a blog, we have a Facebook group, we're getting a Hyves group, a Myspace, a newsletter, a Twitter… social networking facilities exist to increase participation, cohesion, etc. We can make them successful in these roles from a standing start.

The vision Deborah and I got really excited about is one which eschews centralisation or any form of tyranny and instead works towards empowering and upbuilding and constantly unlocking people's potential, gifts, and vocations, and has a widely dispersed base of power… ultimately positions which oversee project teams will likely be elected positions in Phoenix RPGs.

Let's not have a situation where a handful of people hold onto control, but rather let's see to it that everyone be enabled to excercise the fulness of their potential as far as they are able and willing. For example, when we find a website we can use to make an exceptional RPE community, the general Coordinator will be responsible for funding it; paying the fees. The title should could come with responsibility: NO MORE BLAND RESUME FILLERS AND TIMEWASTERS!

Let's not have a 'Board of Founders' who despite the illusion of democracy actually retain oligarchic control; let's not have a 'you can do what you like as long as I agree with you' style of leadership; let's have an ELECTED MEMBER serve as OWNER of the community for the duration of their term. An analogy might be that instead of it being like we're all playing round someone else's house, let's have it so we elect a representative to rent a house on all our behalf, and we'll all play there equal under law.

And again, in the spirit of assigning people to projects according to need, one general Coordinator might appoint a treasurer, a fundraiser, etc. to delegate the task of covering the fees to if the Coordinator's own gifts weren't in that direction, whereas another general Coordinator might handle it personally. So we're not looking for set-in-stone 'Roles and Responsibilities', but a dynamic process of playing to our strengths and meeting the necessary needs.

We propose that the community be governed by referendum; by vote. One of the first things we'll want to vote on will be whether the Coordinator appoint COs for roleplay environments, or whether this process work some other way. Let's do away with the rule that a player can be CO of only one sim. Sure, it's a good rule of thumb because of the dangers of a person having to leave in a hurry and multiple sims being left leaderless, but let's not set it in stone. Players who are capable and willing to run several sims simultaneously should be given the chance to do so.

In fact, some sims might have a panel of 'COs' where appropriate, or two friends might jointly start and run a sim. What we're saying is, let's escape the constraints of corrupt rules and structures and instead build an environment which facilitates growth and doesn't compound it! No more hoops to jump through and boxes to tick, but just good sensible guidelines.

As for rules for member conduct, let's have a body of law: the rules of our host site and THE ACTUAL LAW. I don't want to see a situation where someone breaks the law in their conduct towards another member and yet we all shrug and say "well, we don't have an actual rule against it…" But we don't need to reinvent the wheel by writing legislation for a gaming community when well-qualified and paid professionals have already done the work! Ultimately, the trick will be to find a balance between enough rules that everything doesn't come down to two or three folk calling shots, but not so many that we need several people to spend all their time learning them just so we can know what the rules expect.

The whole thing can and should remain AMENDABLE. Even the position names (Technical Support Coordinator, etc.) and the very structures of coordination might change. What we're getting at is that none of us want to paint ourselves into a corner by creating a situation fundamentally liable to abuse. All systems are liable to abuse, but the one being envisioned here is at least ultimately ACCOUNTABLE and dynamic.

Whatever we do should be changeable by referendum without obstructive 'Unchangeable Elements' or the undemocratic process of rule by an unelected 'President' or 'Board'. And no position will be permanent, none whatsoever.

Let's make it so THE PEOPLE WITH THE POWER ARE THE PEOPLE. That the 'leaders' are just coordinators and facilitators, not tyrants, and that they're accountable in elections and they're accountable by impeachment vote of, say, 66% of the active membership.

This is all a lot to take in, I know, and it's only scratching the surface of what we'll all do together. Most of it is not going to be achievable until we find a site of our own which we can build the way we want it, as a group. For now, we need to focus on what's in front of us, and that's to keep up our reforming momentum, and OPEN SOME SIMS! :-)

In summary at present, then, (at the start of day two of Phoenix) we have:

three Firefly sims currently open with at least four more coming soon (including a space station and a planet sim as well as two more ships on the way) and an additional handful planned for a little later down the line (the Academy, the Blue Horizon, and something an early colonisation era Irish-dominated planet)

three Star Trek sims opening imminently (including the USS Repulse, set five years after the signing of the Khitomer Accords that brought peace between the Federation and the Klingons)

at least three Stargate sims opening imminently (a 304 spaceship called the HMS Nelson, a base HQ, and at least one team sim on adventures like those of SG-1)

15 Star Wars sims imminent (to be opened like a cascade of awesomeness probably starting with a sim set in Invisec on Coruscant soon after Order 66, a ship called Triple Zero set at the same time, and a ship set in the Knights of the Old Republic era)

a range of other genres including Farscape, Tolkien's Middle Earth, D&D, a vampires and werewolves sim, a modern fiction zombie sim (perhaps set in The Hollows), a modern-day detective sim, Doctor Who, Cthulu, Wheel of Time (perhaps set just before Rand's rise to power), XComm:UFO Defence, Steampunk, and Starship Troopers

Let's make it happen.

And remember, this 'martial law' is temporary. If you like the notion of Phoenix RPGs but not these ideas for how it should work, you can vote me down in the imminent elections, you can vote the ideas out in referendums. This isn't rule from above, it's a class action. Who's game for it?

Every blessing,