At the risk of sounding too verbose, I'll just preface this by saying this: Multiverse is great, but it could be better. The Conventions themselves have provided a suitable framework for which the Multiverse can abide for the past three years, but it's clear that they were written for a time when Nerd Louisville was much smaller and the pool of available games was similarly small. As the organization has grown in size and scale, amendments have been made to the Conventions, but I believe that there are fundamental flaws that should be addressed in order to ensure that Multiverse can continue being awesome and to prevent issues from arising in the future. My proposed changes are a combination of solutions to existing problems and measures to proactively solve problems that may arise later.
I'll start by saying this is going to be a very detailed dissection of the Conventions in their current form, and some suggested changes. I'll also go ahead and put down the "TL;DR" so you don't have to.
Any player-character (PC) that began play at 0 xp and level 1 on or after April 3, 2016 may move freely between any Multiverse game sessions run by any DM subscribing to these conventions, provided the player can get a spot in the game.
The term "provided the player can get a spot in the game" is vague. It may be of benefit to define what would allow a DM to refuse a player to join a game (i.e. how many players is "full"). Obviously this differs from DM to DM, but a definition of a standard "full" game - 5 or 6 players - would make it easier to say "Oh, well this game is full" at an event that doesn't have sign-ups, such as FNRPGs.
There are no in-game "hoops" to jump through in order to move a PC from one game to another. For example, you don't have to have your PC sail in-game over the edge of the world and then cross a desert to get from Mike’s Eldritch Isles game to John’s Ruins of Hyboria game.
This article is problematic for reasons that I will go over later on, but besides that, this Article presumes that the DM does not have a story-relevant way to integrate a new character into the setting or narrative.
You may play as a character of evil alignment, but you may not PvP (as each DM judges)
PvP is unrelated to character alignment and has no bearing on how one creates a character at level 1, so this should be placed in another article unrelated to character creation. A possible change might read "Players may play characters of any alignment, but are strongly discouraged from taking actions that directly undermine the party, even if such actions would follow the pattern of their chosen alignment." This is a grey area and could be seen as infringing on players' ability to play the characters they want to.
Adventurers League mentions this point:
- No Undermining Other Characters. Adventurers are brought together by common cause, and during an adventure, they’re expected to work together to overcome challenges. Though certain factions might find others distasteful, individuals will put that aside and become a team when put in dangerous situations. In short, play nice with each other when things get deadly.
Races that grant flight at 1st level are prohibited.
Multiverse campaigns spend such a short amount of time at levels 1 and 2 that I believe this restriction is unnecessary. Items that grant flight are common in MV, and several classes gain access to spells and abilities that grant a fly speed as early as level 5. (Full disclosure: I have wanted to play an Aarakocra in MV since VGTM became legal after a similar battle about player characters as monstrous races.) One proposed solution could be that natural fly speed cannot be used before a certain level.
Options available in other resources like the Oathbreaker Paladin found in the Dungeon Master's Guide and content from Unearthed Arcana articles is not permitted without specific Nerd Louisville documentation indicating otherwise.
I propose that the Unearthed Arcana Revised Ranger be made Multiverse legal. Rangers are by far the weakest class in 5e relative to other classes, and for that reason there are very few of them over level 6. Worse, the relative weakness of Rangers only begins to show clearly at level 6 and beyond, well past the point where players are allowed to re-spec their characters while maintaining their XP.
Monstrous races (such as the Yuan-Ti and Bugbear must be roleplayed as somehow different from standard members of that race. For example, a player roleplaying as a Yuan-Ti may state that they abandoned their people after discovering a terrible secret about them or a player roleplaying as a Bugbear might state that they always knew they were different from other Bugbears and thus had little in common with their brethren.
What are "standard members of that race" and how would they otherwise be played? Do the conventions stipulate how a theoretically generic bugbear might normally act in a theoretically generic situation within the confines of a theoretically generic campaign? This sub-article is problematic in a number of ways, but the biggest one is that it defines how players must (or must not) play characters of certain races.
If you use resources beyond the Player’s Handbook, you must have that book with you at the table as a reference for the GM.
To take a quote from this past BlizzCon's infamous Diablo Immortal reveal, "Do you all not have phones?". Forcing this rule would mean players who wanted to take concepts from the expanded materials beyond the PHB would need to spend over $200 to purchase all of the hard-cover books. This sub-article completely ignores the prevalence of digital resources such as D&D Beyond, and its inclusion in the Conventions is baffling.
If a PC is far outside the bounds of a game’s genre (e.g. a Dragonborn Paladin in a humanocentric swords & sorcery game), the DM may “convert” the PC to fit into the game. For example, a GM may say, “Dragonborn don’t exist in my world, for this adventure, you are a human with the ability to breath fire.” The mechanics of the race would remain unchanged in this example but the player would be expected to role play the character as if they were a race that exists in the campaign world.
This article is also problematic on a number of levels. To begin with, I refer to Article 2 stating "There are no in-game "hoops" to jump through in order to move a PC from one game to another." I would strongly argue that completely altering a character's race - and therefore that character's traits, bonds, and flaws - is a "hoop" and therefore should not have to occur because of Article 2. As to the example given within the Article as written, no compelling reason has been given as to why a restriction would be placed beyond DM personal preference, and the argument could be made that removing Dragonborn - a core race in the PHB - from a setting precludes that setting from being compliant with D&D 5e. And in the example given, the DM, not the player, decides what that player character will be, removing agency from the player. I propose this article be removed entirely.
Generally, any spell, magical item, or other unusual power may be used among all Multiverse games. However, each DM reserves the right to restrict, or outright forbid, magic and powers that they deem “broken”, overpowered, out of genre, or just too weird. If a player has such a spell, item, or power, they should make an honest effort to warn the DM before the game and decide the proper course of action.
This has been a point of contention for the past several months. It is not a secret that certain campaigns tend to bestow much more powerful boons, loot and other goodies to their players than others, and when players from those campaigns travel to other campaigns that are not of a similarly high "power level", problems arise. This is probably the most contentious of the issues surrounding the Multiverse. I have no concrete proposals for Article 6 but I believe a summit of the Multiverse DMs would be helpful to generate ideas for ways to address the proliferation of ultra-high-powered boons and magical items.
For each session a player’s character completes, that character is awarded 10 downtime days that they may use for crafting and other downtime activities. Downtime activities are listed on page 187 of the Player’s Hand Book but DMs may offer other downtime activities to players at their discretion. Players are also offered the ability to “Catch Up” with friends using Downtime days. When a player uses their Downtime days in this way, they immediately gain another level. This is only possible at 4th, 10th, and 16th level. For example, a 4th level character could “Catch Up” and immediately move to level 5 if they have the required amount of Downtime days to spend. This can only be used to reach levels 5, 11, and 17 from levels 4, 10, and 16 respectively.
Setting aside that this has been taken straight from Adventurers League (which is not in and of itself a bad thing), this opens itself up to exacerbate the issue known as "turbo-leveling", where a player manages to get a character from level 1 to level 20 in a matter of months. AL has a weekly schedule and player advancement is largely regulated to where players are by and large matched with other players in a similar level range. MV allows DMs to run games Level 1-20, resulting in some characters being turbo-leveled from 1 to 6 after just one session. The need for catch-up levels is largely reduced in such an environment where "tiers" do not exist. Catch-up levels just allow players to gain an extra level at an arbitrary break point in Multiverse. My proposal is to allow a single catch-up level per character. It can be used at any level, and it would cost the character's current level multiplied by 20 downtime days.
Magical items of Uncommon or higher rarity shall not be sold by NPCs and cannot be crafted. Common items, like potions and scrolls, may still be sold by NPCs or crafted by player characters. Uncommon, Rare, Very Rare, and Legendary items are generally permanent magical items and the means and process to create them has been lost to time or hidden by the gods.
Similar to the issues in Article 6, there is nothing precluding DMs from home-brewing even more powerful magical items and selling them through NPCs (or just giving them away), making this article rather redundant. It would be like banning handguns in a city where everyone already owns an assault rifle. In addition, this restriction limits the role play possibilities for Forge Domain Clerics at higher levels. (Full disclosure: I am currently playing a Forge Domain Cleric.) And it once again dictates how DMs run their settings, preventing a DM from theoretically running a setting in the gilded age of high magic where magical artisans are not uncommon and such knowledge can be freely learned, or where the techniques of enchanting such items can be acquired for a steep cost. The rules quite clearly say "no, you cannot run your campaign this way", and I propose doing away with this Article entirely.
For each session you are a Dungeon Master for the Multiverse, you will accrue XP for one of your Multiverse characters. Choose which character after you run the game and then apply the following amount of XP to that character. Between Levels 1-3, you will earn 33% of the total XP required to increase in a level (e.g. a beginning, 1st Level character requires 300 XP to increase to 2nd Level, thus you will earn 100 XP for each session you run as a Dungeon Master). To get to Levels 4 and above, the percentage decreases to 25% of the total XP needed to reach the next Level (e.g. you just increased to 3rd Level and it requires 1800 XP to reach 4th Level, thus you would earn 450 XP for each session you run as a Multiverse Dungeon Master).
First, I propose that running any game at a Nerd Louisville event allows for the accrual of DMXP. Second, I propose that DMXP increases at lower levels and tails off at higher levels. Running a game should net a DM more than 100 XP if they are contributing to a Level 1 character and fewer than 12,500 XP if they are contributing to a Level 19.
Treat everyone with respect, regardless of race, religion, gender, orientation, ability, favorite edition, or other differences. Avoid depicting stereotypes of real-world minority groups. Do not depict sexual assault or threats
Adventurers League has a much more comprehensive Code of Conduct that I believe these Conventions can take a few pages from:
- Participants must conduct themselves in a manner that is conducive to the enjoyment and safety of others at the event.
- Avoid excessively vulgar, sexual, or overly mature language and themes.
- Follow the DMs lead, avoid arguing with the DM or other players over rules.
- Let other players speak, avoid talking over others.
- Avoid excessive cross-talk that is not relevant to the adventure being played.
- Allow other players to get attention from the DM.
- Discourage others from using social media to bully, shame, or intimidate other participants.
- Avoid phone conversations at the table. If you must take a call, please excuse yourself from the table until your call is completed.
- No tolerance is given for theft or aggressive behavior. Theft and aggressive behavior are grounds for immediate removal from the play area and the premises. Aggressive behavior includes threats of or actual physical aggression, using racial, gender, or cultural slurs against another participant, and otherwise harassing other participants.
I've personally witnessed one player calling another player a "bitch" in a shout at the table, with no repercussions to the offending player. I have personally sat at tables where one player was hogging the DM's attention for the entire five-hour session. I've witnessed player intimidation and gaslighting myself, and have been the target of aggressive play on a couple of occasions. Encouraging a play group that doesn't turn into a cesspool of toxicity requires a lot of work beyond just saying "don't make fun of minorities and don't make rape jokes."
That's all I have for now. Please let me know your thoughts on these proposals, if you have any proposals of your own, or if you think I'm completely off of my rocker. I do this because I love Multiverse and I want to see it succeed and flourish for a long time to come.