fiat_knox: silhouette of myself taken at sunrise (Shadow person)
(This was sent by email directly to Phil Boulle earlier today).

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Dear Phil,

Like a lot of people this past week, I have been concerned about how the new Pay-to-Play policy affects my standing, as well as the standing of fan RPG organisations who happen to enjoy using White Wolf products.

I've been wondering about the sorts of small groups this policy could affect. I was wondering how far the exemptions go, and what the threshold is above which a licence is required to operate.

Thought then turned to what constitutes an "amateur" group. For example:

- Individuals who are amateur fans of White Wolf roleplaying, but which aren't tied down to a particular group or club (such as myself at present);

- Groups of amateurs which gather in one another's private residences to game, including games involving White Wolf products, but where small cash donations are typically asked for to cover refreshments, spare sheets etc (in other words, pretty much any average home-based hobby group);

- Small social RPG clubs which operate through a single venue such as the back of a games store, a back room of a public library etc., where the owner of the property charges rent on that property, in addition to any monies the group may ask for to provide the night's refreshments, spare sheets etc, regardless of what the club uses the facilities for, whether it's to play Requiem or Halo (or even to hold crochet masterclasses or prayer circles);

- General roleplaying clubs which are part of an educational establishment such as a school, college or University, and which are bound by the University's social club bylaws to organise and keep ledgers of cash transactions made by that club.

I then thought of the sorts of roleplaying groups I have belonged to, and I considered the following situations, which have happened in a long life of gaming:

- A club of amateurs I once belonged to had an individual whose uncle ran a gaming store across town. Now the uncle ran a 10% discount scheme, but only to family. Once every couple of weeks, therefore, when his uncle got new books in, this individual would make a run to the store on behalf of his colleagues in the club, bearing a shopping list and the requisite monies to purchase such books at a discount.

- A club of gaming amateurs I belonged to in University were required by the University's club and association bylaws to elect a chair, a secretary and a treasurer, and to keep financial records of all monetary transactions made by the club. The club had several good ideas, including raising a membership fee for the express purpose of maintaining a communal library of roleplaying game books and products for the benefit of all students.

Note: all students. Not just the members of the club. These people were making the communal library accessible to all, in order to show outsiders how much fun roleplaying could be. Memberships were offered to outsiders, but it was not mandatory for people who only dropped by for single visits.

Towards the end of my final year, the group also arranged a public roleplaying event on college grounds for charity. LARPing, CCGs and tabletop games were played, and a fee for entry was charged ... but all proceeds raised above and beyond the costs charged by the University went to the University's patron charity.

All these kinds of groups exist. Some of them have memberships numbering in their twenties, particularly the more popular academic roleplaying groups in some of the larger institutions. And not just in academia. What about amateur roleplaying groups set up in places such as hospices or at military barracks, or other places with long-term residents such as amateur RPG communities set up within the office buildings of commercial, government or voluntary concerns?

The thing about these groups and communities is that almost all of them are general roleplaying clubs and groups, and fees raised strictly for the purpose of membership and/or participation aren't charged. Furthermore, they aren't tied down to just White Wolf's product. They also play Call of Cthulhu, Shadowrun, GURPS, D&D, Magic: the Gathering, Halo, GTA: San Andreas ...

A blanket Edict From Above requiring that even amateur clubs such as the above require licences and mandatory subscription to the Camarilla, on pain of forfeiture of the right to enjoy White Wolf's products, is frankly going to drive every single such club and individual to simply drop gaming White Wolf and continuing gaming with some of the other companies' products instead.

There's already enough fallout over the new World of Darkness - several friends I gamed with haven't spoken to me since 2004, and consider me a "sellout" because I happened to buy the new WoD core and Requiem. The friction this policy has generated has reached down to the small community club I'm a member of, and they are holding a meeting this week to consider whether or not to drop using your products altogether, concentrate on other companies' games in future.

The policy is mooted as coming into effect in six months, but people are making up their minds now.

I might suggest that you look towards the possibility of asking individual amateurs who have proven their love for White Wolf's games on a long term basis if they would like to be the official representatives of White Wolf at conventions.

If individuals "speaking for" White Wolf, yet not under any obligation whatsoever to join the Camarilla, can be seen at conventions, it might hopefully allay the fears of other individuals that you could be trying to force everyone who ever heard the name "White Wolf" in a passing conversation to join the Camarilla and pay an annual sub fee to "the local union."

White Wolf games and products have been, to me, the source of a good deal of enjoyment to me over the past fourteen years. The past seven or eight years, since my time at University, I've almost exclusively devoted my available leisure time towards enjoying World of Darkness games.

I believe in the fun which draws people to roleplaying, and to that particular flavour of fun which is roleplaying in White Wolf's World of Darkness. I don't want to see that fun disappear. In fact, I have no wish to see White Wolf disappear, either. And if there's anything I can do to prevent either occurrence, I'll do it.

I hope I've been of help in some way. Thanks for your time.

Yours,


Fiat Knox, aka "Libra_the_Balancer."

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Well? D'you think it lays it out clear enough?

And will it help out White Wolf? (And if not, how long do you think it's got?)
fiat_knox: silhouette of myself taken at sunrise (Shadow person)
Over the past week, White Wolf has seen some considerable controversy on its site, all over a radical change in its policies.

Pay for Play Policy behind this cut )

Links to various fora can be found below:

Policy on Pay-for-Play Games

More on the Pay-for-Play Policy

Official Spanking of the Policy - the first thread established, not long after Origins

Opinions on the Pay-for-Play Policy

Thread on Ex Libris Nocturnis

Thread on Shadownessence Forum

[poll]: What Will You Do Now?

I've had a thought about it, and it was even easier to make up my mind than I thought. I thought it would take me the weekend. It only took me an hour offline at most.

Basically, it boils down to this, very simply.

I do not want to join the Camarilla.

I refuse to be forced to join the Camarilla.

It's not the money thing: it's the organisation. I want no part of the Camarilla whatsoever. Never have done, never will.

That's it.

The only thing that'll ever work is that WWGS

(i) separate the licences from obligatory Camarilla membership;

(ii) require that any organiser running public, professional events sign up to an agreement requiring the organisers only to adhere to local health & safety and security bylaws regards public displays, etc., on pain that if accidents to happen at events they are running, and they haven't secured due diligence for their actions, it's them alone who will have to pay the piper, not White Wolf;

(iii) establish an independent body, separate from the Camarilla, to assess these applications for licences from organisers, with the sole power of being able to grant, suspend and revoke those licences - a body to which even the Camarilla must answer;

(iv) Waive any requirement for unaffiliated fans and non-professional STs to join the Camarilla, if they choose to remain independent. Even if they end up representing White Wolf at events.

Especially if they end up representing White Wolf at events. Particularly if they don't want to be regarded as smug quislings and apologists by the unaffiliated fans attending same events.

(v) Never forget again that the main reason why sensible men and women spend upward of $40 on these bloody books is because it's supposed to be fun to play these games.

This policy has killed the joy of WoD gaming for me, stone dead. Until even just a few hours ago, it was a joy to post stuff regards High Speech, mages, Uremehir, Predators and my review of Mysterious Places. Not now.

Maybe in a while, I'll get that joy back. Maybe even in a day, or even a week. Nut not right now.

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