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Odd questions or consequences.

We have a winning condition for an epoch, but we are given rules regarding the game progressing beyond an epoch (specifically #38).  How do you win the game?
You don't.  You only ever win epochs.  Or, if you prefer, each epoch IS a game. --DR

Rule 2 would seem to indicate that the inhabitants of this world are somewhat on the pessimistic side...
Care to suggest an alternative name? --DR

Rule 31 would seem to indicate that rules 10 and 11 need not use the plural.  Have I misread or are 10 and 11 phrased this way since 31 can be changed.
Correct.  The (s) was included to anticipate the potential altering of 31 --DR

Rules to propose or modify as Secondus (these probably fall foul of rule 3, but I guess it is a matter of opinion as to what is against the spirit):
(And is therefore amenable to interpretation by Primus) --DR
You would be safe, yes, until the others gang up to change it. I personally, had I the majority of Primus at the time, would rule that as being in violation of rule 3 --DR
I think we'd want to ensure that the initial number of rules is 48 (or possibly slightly more), so that any new rules are deletable or editable.  --AC
Entirely reasonable, and something you might want to do, if two groups want to run their own versions next epoch --DR

38: It seems that if the number in this rule were lowered enough, it could not be changed without contradicting the contents of Rule 13. This probably wouldn't happen, but... eh, just noticing. --BlackMonkeyMage

Would clash with rule 6, therefore be over ruled --DR
But would quite happily be addable to the ruleset, and would exist there, just being overruled.  If they somehow ended up higher than the original rule 6, then they'd start taking effect.  They could also be argued to be against the SpiritOfTheGame, depending on whether that Spirit wants new players to join.  --AC

49: Does the Primus of the meeting of all the players roll the D6? What happens, then, if there's more than one Primus?
50: How long after or before the official Epoch starting time must the player issue a claim to join without sponsorship? Does it count to just declare your entry and wait for the next epoch for it to become a Formal Claim? --BlackMonkeyMage

Thanks for the answers on this and other pages.  I've just had a flash of understanding with regards to arbitration and I want to check I have this right:  For any event that requires arbitration (deciding the winner in the case of a tie, checking the compliance of events with the rules) a player or group of players can claim Primus (by demonstrating a greater strength in the strongest element than anyone else can muster) and arbitrate the event.  This would work at a meeting level for such events in a meeting or at a global level if such an event occurs outside a meeting.
Yes, that is how I envisage it working, although I am not sure what actual mechanism would be used for a global rules interpretation decision - whether one would hold a meeting to propose a specific interpretation, would would then be circulated as a vote under Primus. --DR

This fails in precisely one case: deciding a winner in the case of a tie on the number of pawns of the strongest element (i.e. determining who has Primus).

Simple example:  Fire 12, Water 11, Earth 10, Air 7 - Ai (FFFFWWWW), Mai (FFFFWWWW), Mii (AAAAAAAA) have a meeting.  Who has Primus? (and hence Secondus, since they are unlikely to rule against themselves)...

What if AAAAAAAA and EEEEEEEE were having a meeting?  There may well be no Master of Primus at a meeting.  In your example there would only be one if Ai and Mai could reach an accord.
Rule 25: What happens if you have a meeting in which nobody controls any pawns of the element that has Primus status, and there's a disagreement regarding the interpretation of rules? Does nothing happen in the meeting? --BlackMonkeyMage

I've been having a look at Nomic and Mumon.  Would it be an idea somewhere in the rule set to mention what to do about proposed rules being:

  1. treat players unequally
  2. try and create what is obviously more than one rule
  3. apply retroactively
  4. be vague, incomplete, or paradoxical

or as Suber puts it:

111. If a rule-change as proposed is unclear, ambiguous, paradoxical, or destructive of play, or if it arguably consists of two or more rule-changes compounded or is an amendment that makes no difference, or if it is otherwise of questionable value, then the other players may suggest amendments or argue against the proposal before the vote.

AlexChurchill is throroughly in favour of allowing (and encouraging) discussion about proposals before the final vote-counting. I'm also in favour of allowing amendments, although some thought would need to be given to timings, to avoid people either having their votes counted for a version of the proposal they no longer agree with, or having no time to vote for the updated one, or being able to push back rules indefinitely by continually suggesting amendments.
To some extent I guess discussion of the wording before the proposal is made is enforced by the requirement that it be proposed at a meeting. --DR
Amendments.  Hmm.  Since the actual voting doesn't commence until the start of the heartbeat following the meeting, how about allowing the period between when the proposal gets put on the pending votes and when it actually gets moved to being currently voted on for suggesting amendments?  Amendments wouldn't get voted upon - it would be up to the original proposing masters of secundus to voluntarily incorporate the suggestions or not as they choose. --DR
AlexChurchill also things that the rule about Primus settling disputes does need further clarification. In particular, in a game featuring MathMos, CompScis and/or pedant?s, almost anything will be arguable as "open to interpretation". I think that power of Primus needs reining in somehow.  I think rule 3 is very dangerous if one or two people have incontrovertible authority over what is and isn't "in the spirit of the game" in case of disputes.    I don't quite know how to go about amending or rephrasing, though... anyone got any ideas?
I agree it is a very open ended power.  On the other hand, there does need to be some mechanism for settling rule interpretation disputes.
''Currently the Spirit of the Game rule (rule 3) is the only defence against people using secundus to deliberatly (or otherwise) add rules that are:
   * vague
      * Votes of people with a good voting record count double
      * Hearts beat faster in the Spring
  * incomplete
      * The following 2 conditions shall apply to vote counting and both must be applied: 1. The vote count shall take place in public
  * paradoxical
      * Even numbered rules shall have their sense inverted
      * A vote may be passed if and only if it fails
  * unfair
      * It is a required Winning Condition that the winning Mage be Kazuhiko
      * Pallando's pawns shall count quadruple for all votes and determinations of Mastery
  * retroactive
      * A power of Primus is that Masters of Primus may propose, and have voted on under Primus, that all rule changes made by Secundus in the last 2 heartbeats be reversed
      * Any rule change shall be retroactively applied back 20 heartbeats, and all pawn changes made that would have been illegal under the new ruleset are disallowed.
  * broken
      * All rules shall be edited to replace all numbers with the phrase "A suffision of yellow"
      * No rules may be changed.  Rules may be moved by the World Giant, who is not affected by the rule movement restrictions that apply to Mages.  The World Giant moves this rule to number 1.
  * contradictory to other rules
      * There shall be 5 elements and 3 powers
      * Each element shall have a different power
  * silly
      * All meetings must be started with a chant of "All hail great Cthulhu"
      * Jelly Babies are the official physrep of pawns (Fire are orange, etc)
  * trivial
      * Mages must be played by humans. (Cuddly toys, computer AI programs, etc may not vote)
      * If you must choose between voting or letting go of a punt pole stuck in the mud, let go of the pole, then vote.

Which of the above do you think the rule set needs defending from, and what is the best way to do it? --DR

An example from a different game of Nomic:

The Terrible Proposals, as they were known, were almost works of art. The guiding principle behind their construction was not merely catastrophe, but *unrepealability*. This could be tricky, because the proposals had to be effective even against the safeguards already in the rules designed to protect the game from rules destructive of play. The trick turned out to be to design TPs that were completely destructive of play in practice, yet allowed a theoretical continuation of play. Hence, there were TPs that would have required all future proposals to have been written in Basque, or to contain copies of pages from the Vlaidvostok telephone directory, or that would have extended the voting period on proposals from one week to 53 years, and so on.

To the best of my knowledge, you will never be able to create a rule structure that completely protects against this sort of thing.  On the other hand, the simplest form of protection is always in place: If player X (or X, Y, ...) force through a blatently destructive rule, then all the other players can simply agree to go off and start a new game at the same point, minus X and her rule. --Kazuhiko

Hmm, I was thinking more along the lines of tamper-resistant than tamper-proof.  Clever destructive paradoxical rule changes have their place - and that place is Nomic, not ElementalOblivion. :-)  To put it another way, I'm hoping there will sufficient stability in the rule set that Meetings, and diplomacy over pawns and elemental strengths remain the main focus of game play, while still leaving things flexible enough that the ruleset can actually be _improved_ to _increase_ the playability of the game as it goes along.  Possibly this is over optimistic.  What do people think?  Is it a good idea?  And if so, is it achievable?  And if so, how? --DR

AlexChurchill's thoughts on the strongly related issues of modifying proposals before voting, and preventing deliberately degenerate proposals:

'Possibly this could be combined with the rule about agreements at the meeting being binding?  Eg all statements made on the formal wiki pages, X, Y and Z (or under the root K) must be true to be best of the mage's belief.' --DR
A rule restricting the usefulness of anything done as secundus would remove the strategic use of secundus, yes? That would kind of defead the malleability aspect of the game's rules. If the game were supposed to be entirely about playing "honorably" with the game's rules, then the rules wouldn't need to be changeable.
...but then, I am not a player... --BlackMonkeyMage
'How about "A unanimous agreement of all mages, 2 heartbeats in a row, has unlimited power, can make any and all possible changes to the entire rulset (including this rule) and Wiki and is the only way retroactive change anything." --DR
OK, that should work.  Can we codify the above as rules?  Where should they go?

Since things seem to be about to start up, I thought I should check:  Other than the addition of much Mathmo Legalese, have the rules changes since I was last asking questions?  I just ran through them but couldn't see any significant changes --Kazuhiko

No, I think the basics of the game (exchanging pawns and raising the strengths of elements to raise your mana score above the winning threashold, by Meeting and diploming with other Mages) has stayed the same. --DR (by the way you might want to add some way to contact you on the page EO Epoch1/MageKazuhiko)

One question: When are element strengths changed (at the conclusion of a meeting?) and when are they checked(at the beginning of a meeting?) - if this is left unspecified, a meeting could find it's procedures disrupted by other ongoing meetings. Indeed, I could, during the meeting of three people, concievably initiate a sub-meeting of myself and one other, and use it to reorder the element powers, so as to take Primus away from the third player - thus allowing me to get my interpretation put on a rule. I think the best approach has to be to let strength changes be noted down, but not applied until the end of the heartbeat. Or, alternatively, I could be missing something in the reordered rules. -- TI
Hmm - good point.  Rule 28 (even in old system when it was Rule 12) never, I think, specified when the Tertius-ordained transfer of one point of elemental strength occurred.  It was meant to occur at the instant the Meeting closed, like the transfer of pawns decreed by Quartus.  I'll edit Rule 28 to line up with Rule 29 unless anyone objects.  --AC
It is Rule 35 (" Once they are determined to be carried out, Actions other than pawn exchanges take effect at the midnight following the end of the current heartbeat.") that specifies that tertius alterations to the balance of elemental strengths takes place at the start of the next heartbeat. --DR
Thankyou. I thought it was there somewhere.  It was originally intended to provide a minimum of 12 hours notice, IIRC, but that seems to have been lost somewhere. I just noticed that rule 31 says passed rule changes shall be added to /PendingChanges, but rule 30 says they're just carried out as soon as voting concludes (which seems to make sense).  We ought to fix this inconsistency one way or the other.  /PendingChanges will be used for changes to the elemental strengths, anyway. --AC

It's also true that the elemental powers are meant to be viewed as they were at the instant the Meeting opened - see rule 22, "at the beginning of that Meeting".  You're right that there's nothing to prevent a Mage being in more than one Meeting at a time.  This could cause interesting results.  But I don't think that needs immediately banning - let's just see what happens.  --AC
I can only see that happening if you hold a meeting that continues over a heartbeat tick (hopefully rare).  I don't think it was intended that you could be in two meetings simultaneously, so pawns should not be able to change except through quartus at that meeting. --DR

Actually, 54 would prevent the sub-meeting, unless you could show that someone else has started a meeting between the start of the main and the start of the sub meeting (!).  I think the lack of 'successiveness' of meetings causes a few potential problems (what happens when pawns change mid-meeting, what happens if the players become aware of a change before the end of a meeting, what happens when if a rule-change effects subsequent meetings (admittedly not relevant at start of game), what happens when rules are passed which contradict 33) but I don't mind playing through since I don't think this is going to come into play all that often.

I have just thought of a nasty case though:  Two players initiate a meeting at midnight at the start of a heartbeat and then wait till a minute before the end of the heartbeat to bring their meeting to a close.  The changes they make then have priority over all other descisions that heartbeat.  At the very least they will be able to nullify a number of choices made at other meetings. --Kazuhiko
There was a proposal that Meetings be viewed as effectively instantaneous.  I don't think that's a particularly helpful way of viewing things, though - the /ConversationLog implies that Meetings have a definite time length, for example.  I would point out that your nasty example isn't quite so nasty, though, because any changes they make will only take *effect* at the end of their meeting.  And anything requiring voting will always have a full heartbeat for voting on, because it gets added on "PendingVotes?" at the end of the meeting, and moved to "ActiveVotes?" at the next heartbeat.  --AC
Ah, I see.  33 affects changes to rules not proposals to change the rules.  In which case, if two change proposals are both voted through (odd, but possible) or the position of a rule is commanded to change to two different positions, how do we determine which alteration takes place?  --Kazuhiko
Meetings are required to be 'near real time' interactions.  Eg 30 seconds between emails or icqs is acceptable.  hour long intervals would not be.  If someone really wants to keep 1 meeting going for 48 hours, more power to them. --DR

Ok, let's work through this one as a test case.  Suppose we have rule 60 which say "Foo".  Two groups of Mages hold Meetings and Group A agrees on the secundus proposal to change "Foo" to "Bar" while Group B agrees on a secundus proposal to change "Foo" to "Bat".  Group A met before Group B, but Group B updated the Wiki to show the results of their Meeting before A managed to log in.  What happens?

Well, hopefully it would get sorted out, either at the modification stage (with one group postponing their change for a heartbeat) or at the voting stage (with one of the proposals getting voted down).  However, let's suppose that both proposals pass (by the same majority, etc.).  Come the next heartbeat after the vote, what then?

Obviously you can't just have it chosen by who then updates the ruleset first, because that would violate the spirit of the World - The wiki is just a physical respresentation of the Hierarchy, not the actual magic itself.  And the current ruleset does not explicitly cover this case, saying which proposal shall have precedance (the one first agreed?  the one first published?  the one first to get a vote cast?).  It is therefore a decision for Primus to decide.  A meeting of mages must be called, and a proposal must be raised by masters of primus at that meeting to to suggest how best to interpret the rules.  This proposal then gets voted upon under primus in the normal fashion.  In the mean while, until the interpretation has been voted upon, the rule 60 remains "foo" and remains in effect as "foo".

Thoughts?  Do you agree this is how it currently works?

(It is not particularly elegant, and possibly a good candidate for a secundus addition to the rules to clarify the situation, but I don't think we need to alter the ruleset to cover this before the game starts).
AlexChurchill agrees pretty much entirely with DR's thoughts here.

A possibly unexpected result of the rules is that winning by exchange of elemental strength is delayed by a heartbeat.  Change of elemental strength is an "Action" which occurs at midnight following the end of the current heartbeat but the "Winning Condition" is a mana total calculated at the start of the next heartbeat (currently 1 second prior to midnight).  Of course any "Action" caused in this extra round are useless since they come into effect 1 second after the epoch concludes so the only useful thing you could do is shuffle pawns.  Assuming the 'winning' mage has enough sense to stay out of meetings that heart-beat the only thing this means is that it would be possible for the other players to 'elect' a winner if they don't like the current winner.  Still, it's an oddity :) --Kazuhiko

Does 37 ("No more than 1 Action of each Power may be initiated at any given Meeting") mean that Primus cannot Arbitrate in a meeting (#25) and move a rule (#26) or that Tertius cannot both adjust elemental strength (#28) and elect a keeper of the records (#29)? --Kazuhiko
Hmmm.  I suspect "Actions" are not particularly well defined.  They were not meant to include arbitration or keeper-voting.  Alternatively, each different "type" of action should only be allowed once per meeting.  But I suspect that's not quite what the rules say.  --AC
Sounds a good candidate for a secundus rule change

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