(I know, I know… I’m not managing my update schedule. I haven’t even been seriously trying. A cross-country move, new job, and additional child-watching duties due to being farther from family will do that…)
Much of the nitty-gritty for Referees running Infinitas is in the Appendices. Here is a sample from the appendix on “Style and Theory of Play.”)
Tabletop games are about accomplishing great things in the face of great opposition, simulating situations few if any people will ever get to experience. This is the meat and bones of the genre—there are games about mundanities, but they are few and far between relative to the way the majority of players go about their hobby. Unfortunately there is a trend toward negating the element of risk involved in the “great opposition” part of the equation by ‘fudging’ or ignoring the element that introduces this risk—the dice. This author has personally seen countless games ruined by one or more parties fudging: on the part of Referees (or people who go by similar appellations) to prevent character death or results that would ruin the ‘story’, or by players to ensure they do not ruin everyone’s fun with ‘bad luck’, or any of a number of combinations of these and other excuses.
For this reason the author (who cannot make you comply) very strongly urges the Referees and players of this game to never ignore, fudge, or alter the roll of the dice except in those manners allowed by the rules. If you cannot live with the result of the dice you roll, you are unready to roll them in the first place; indeed, you are unready for roleplaying games. In such cases, it might be recommended that you should take up the vaguely similar hobby of improvisational theater, or any of a number of games that promise “rules-lite” gaming at the expense of the verisimilitude, challenge, risk, and glorious insanity of roleplaying games. Find some other form of roleplaying until you are ready to accept that you are playing a fiction—not in the sense of a story being told, but in the sense of a shared, deliberate untruth—and not playing by the rules of, and living with the consequences of your actions within, that shared spaces is to make that fiction a lie, cheating yourself, the players, and (if you are a player) the Referee of their own agency.
This goes particularly for the Referee—if you cannot stand to have the result of a roll happen, you should not have let yourself or the player roll in the first place—narrate the result. The otherwise excellent Arbiter of Worlds by the talented Alexander Macris goes into detail about how a game master should behave, and this author thoroughly endorses most of the book, except for the concession he makes toward ‘fudging’: he gives a very short list of situations in which it could be used without reducing player agency to a lie—this author goes further to state that it is never a viable option if player’s accomplishments are to be taken seriously. This is not because there aren’t sometimes rolls made that don’t matter, but because it creates in the minds of both the Referee and the player the idea that it is (sometimes) a viable option, which opens the door to it being allowable at ever-increasing opportunities, and poisons the well of shared trust if ever discovered. How can a player trust his Referee never killed a character or let them save the day if he knows the Referee will fudge in the small things? Ultimately he can’t. Therefore if we are to take the virtus of roleplaying gaming seriously as a pastime for mature adults, as opposed to seeing it for what it sometimes can be (a self-indulgent, mutually-congratulatory shared lie), we must not open the door to bad gaming habits in the first place.
Like all good games, roleplaying games have ‘win’ and ‘lose’ conditions; it can reasonably argued that those without such conditions are not even games in any meaningful sense of the word (they could still be ‘fun activities’ without being games.) In Infinitas the winning condition is getting characters to the maximum level and having them retire successfully in spite of enormous odds against them. There can be victories along the way (indeed, each session will have victories, and almost certainly defeats), but the ultimate success is the one already stated. The ‘lose’ condition is to have an entire stable of player characters and their hired help wiped out; this does not mean you cannot or should not have fun in losing. Some of the most fun this author has ever had in a roleplaying game have been in his losses, and one sign of a bad roleplaying game system is that it punishes failure so heavily that losing is no longer fun in and of itself.