The Ok Check-In Mechanic

The Ok Check-In Mechanic

As our player base grows, we continue to be amazed at the depth of emotion, the dedication, and the commitment of our players.  The work each of you puts into not just your characters but also in a shared story is what sets Riverside Opera apart and is what will keep us going for years to come.

Riverside Opera is, first and foremost, a story-driven game.  We focus on enhancing the play experience and increasing the feeling of immersion, all while providing a safe and consent-based play environment for everyone. When we LARP, we often place ourselves into the lives of our characters, letting them steer the scene.  We feel what they feel, and sometimes our bodies don’t know the difference between fictional emotional trauma and real emotional trauma.  Sometimes, a scene is too intense or triggers a physical/emotional response that means we need a moment, but don’t know how to ask for that moment without breaking the story flow.  To that end, we are excited to announce that, effective as of Riverside Opera: Regency, we will be implementing a version of the OK Check-In system utilized by many of the American Free-Form LARPs.

The OK Check-In system has been in place in LARP circles for many years, and designed specifically to allow players to check in on the comfort level and well-being of their fellow players, without breaking the flow of the story.  With the implementation of the OK Check-In mechanic, the “Ok” hand symbol will no longer be used to indicated Out of Character.  Going forward, we will be exclusively using the crossed fingers symbol to indicated a player is OOC, when they are not in the OOC space.

The OK Check-In mechanic works in very straightforward fashion, as follows:

Player A Flashes the Ok hand symbol at Player B during a scene: This asks the question, “Are you ok?”

Player B responds in one of three ways:

  • Thumbs up – Player B is mentally/physically/emotionally ok with how the scene is unfolding. Play continues as normal

  • Palm Flat – Player B is unsure of how they feel in the moment, but is not fully ok in the scene. This should be treated as a Thumbs Down by Player A, the scene should be paused, Player B should be given the opportunity to either take a moment, or leave/be escorted from scene.

 

  • Thumbs Down – Player B is NOT ok. Scene should be paused, Player B should be given the opportunity to either take a moment or leave/be escorted from scene.

Palm Flat, and Thumbs Down are to be treated as the same response, because often, a player is afraid of “ruining the fun” by saying no, or they are otherwise incapable of giving a hard “No” in the moment for whatever reason.  The Palm Flat option is in in place because of the “I’m fine” or “Meh” default answers many people give to stress, out of fear of causing problems or being a bother.  Sometimes, a player just needs a de-escalation of the aggression level of the scene. Sometimes, they need to take a private moment to collect themselves, or go to the OOC space and detach from game stress for a moment.  The immediate follow-up question to either of those symbols should be, “Would you like an escort to the OOC space or for me to call a Narrator?”  This allows Player B to dictate what they need a go-forward, which may be as simple as, “Can we dial down the yelling?”

One does not have to be a primary player involved in a scene to perform an OK check.  We’ve all seen players portray character who have become overwhelmed IC, and had emotional breaks.  Anyone can do an OK check on anyone, at any time, if they are worried about a player’s emotional state or comfort level.

The Player who has called for a pause or stop should not be pressured into explaining why they called for said stop.  Unless Player B chooses to discuss the incident later, it is not a topic of discussion.  No IC repercussions may occur because of Player B’s need to deescalate or end scene.  That said, the Ok Check-In system is not to be used as an easy out to avoid negative IC consequences for player action, nor should it be used to interrupt a scene between players for personal IC gain.  Abuse of the system to that end is considered metagaming, and will be handled accordingly.

Example 1:

Brujah Prince Cup de Cake is squaring off against Ventrue Archon No Fun, who has been caught trying to incite a revolt in the city.  Prince Cup de Cake abruptly stands, interrupting the Archon by slamming one hand on the table as she loudly counters the Archon’s point, flashing the OK symbol with the other.  Archon No Fun flashes a Thumbs up, standing as he does so, matching the Prince’s vocal tone and volume, and agreeing to the escalation of aggression in the scene.

Example 2:

Anarch Baron Jay Cartier attempts to grandstand in the middle of open court, mocking the Sovereign’s rule and gets in a screaming match with Enforcer Merci Ravyn.  Jay and Merci players did not perform an ok check before they starting the argument, but Jay wants to escalate by moving into Merci’s personal space.  Jay flashes the Ok check, stepping one foot forward to indicate intent, and Merci flashes a Thumbs Down.  Jay’s immediately asks ““Would you like an escort to the OOC space or for me to call a Narrator?” Merci declines, indicates the personal space invasion is a no, and she would like to continue the scene, but at the established distance.  Jay steps back, and allows Merci to continue the scene at the level at which she is comfortable.

Example 3:

After an intense combat scene, Thyme the Malkavian notices that Rick the Setite, usually a very talkative chap, seems to be hiding in a corner avoiding people. Thyme catches his eyes and flashes the Ok symbol, and Rick replies with a shaky palm flat.  Thyme asks if he needs an escort to the OOC space, he says yes, and they both exit the play space.

Example 4, group scenario:

The Giovanni clan meeting is getting heated, accusations flying about one (or more) of their number acting against the Family’s best interest.  As volume levels rise, Emissary Lannie flashes the ok symbol, as group check in to make sure everyone is all right. All but two of the players flash Thumbs up. Those two players respond at the verbal follow-up, that they don’t want to leave scene, but the volume level is causing them issues.  Emissary Lannie gives an impassioned plea for the Family to maintain their calm, and the rest of the Giovanni comply.

We understand that these mechanics will take some time to fully transition into.  We ask that everyone give them a try, and practice implementing the OK Check-In mechanics in play.  Once comfortable with the mechanics, we feel that everyone will find them to enhance the player experience, maximize immersion, and minimize potential player discomfort.  A full demonstration of the OK Check-in mechanics, as they will be used in Riverside Opera, will be performed as part of the player meeting in January, and as needed to increase familiarity.

The Ok Check-In mechanics do not, in anyway supersede our Code of Conduct.  While these mechanics can be used to confirm permission to touch, please continue to obtain full verbal consent in the moment for player contact that has not already been pre-negotiated and informed to the Staff at large.