There are two sections to this post. Unimaginatively enough, they are called Rules and Guidelines.
These are some rules of the game that you need to know. There are very few of them. Most of the rules in the Unknown are purposely kept secret from the players, for several reasons: to prevent min/maxing, to make the players spend time performing outrageous deeds of courage and betrayal rather than figuring out how to do something according to the rules, to allow changes to be made without disrupting the flow of the game, and finally because I find it amusing.
The rules you need to know are as follows:
Secret actions are any action you take that (you hope) the other players don't know about. To prevent me from going insane, secret actions are done in a more organized manner than regular roleplaying. There are a few key concepts you need to know before I go into details:
Secret actions are secret. Send them to me by PM.
Secret actions are done in the background of regular roleplaying. Only the results of a secret action will affect the flow of the game, unless something goes wrong and you get caught out murdering someone in their sleep or something like that.
Secret actions take place in rounds.
At the beginning of the game the first round of secret actions will start. It will be filled by everyone receiving information and orders from their factions--don't try to do anything in the first round. After that round I will set a deadline for the next round. Once the deadline occurs I will collect all of the secret actions that were sent to me that round and either write a narrative of them all happening at once or play them out over the course of the next round, depending on circumstances and whichever option would be more interesting. It will be done this way because I'd like to keep my sanity intact--with this system I only have to worry about secret actions a few times a week rather than constantly.
Don't worry about your secret actions being delayed until the opportune moment is past--during intense, highly-detailed action sequences, rounds will go faster than when the Expedition is just moving through the wilderness.
You may only perform one secret action per round. This is important. Some advantages or disadvantages might change this, but unless stated otherwise you can only do one. Choose carefully.
CONTACTING YOUR FACTION
Contacting your faction while on the Unknown Continent requires you to use your secret action. They're on a different continent from you--whatever method you have of contacting them (and you do have one, right?) probably takes some effort to use, and you have to keep it hidden from everyone else. However, there are times when it needs to be done.
You may contact your faction to perform the following actions:
Gather intelligence. You can ask your faction if they'll do some legwork back on Lorin to get you some information. You can gather intelligence on a specific player, faction, rumor, or whatever else springs to mind. Each player has an Intelligence score and a Counterintelligence stat for this purpose. You will not be informed of what your stats are, but you can make educated guesses from your advantages/disadvantages. When you make a gather intelligence action, I will roll some dice. Depending on the results of the roll you might get the information you sought: or you might receive either misleading or incorrect information, or none at all.
Report mission success/failure. You will be congratulated/berated, and either rewarded or punished. You may choose not to do this, but if you fail to report a mission success or failure and your faction hears of it, there might be unpleasant consequences. If you succeeded at an important mission, you may receive a reward as well, which can be anything from gold to a resupply to a promise of greater assistance later on.
Discuss the weather. ("It's raining arrows! Get me out of here!")
Please note that it does not take a secret action for your faction to contact you, only for you to contact them.
There are three types of combat in The Unknown: Minor, Major, and PvP. Minor and Major are players vs the environment, while PvP is player vs player. You don't actually have to remember any of the distinctions, but for those of you who are into classifications, here you go.
Minor combat is when there isn't any chance that the players could lose the combat. For example, if the Expedition comes across a band of cannibals armed with flint-studded clubs who immediately attack, there is no way the Expedition could lose that. The cannibals would get cut down by crossbows, guns and steel blades. You can narrate this type of combat without any input from the GM, except for things like "The remaining enemies flee in terror." The players expend very minor amounts of resources (gunpowder, healing, etc) and then pat themselves on the back before moving on. Most combat will be of this type.
Major combat is another beast altogether. Major combat is any combat where the players have a high chance of being defeated. Dragon attacks, hordes of natives, or assaults by gods are examples of major combat. In major combat, all players involved PM me their actions (Example: "I try to sprint for the end of the collapsing bridge and shoot the dragon at the same time"). I then roll dice and determine how well that works for you. When I know whether you live or die, I tell you (Example: "You reach the end of the bridge before it collapses, and your wild shot puts a hole in the dragon's wing"). Then you narrate your epic struggle in the thread for everyone else to see. Play continues like that until combat ends.
Player vs Player combat is when players are fighting each other. Since none of the players knows the tricks that any of the others have up their sleeves, PvP can't work like major combat does, with each player writing their perspective of the battle. There are some similarities--every player involved sends me a PM with what they want to do, and I then roll dice to determine the outcome, but there the similarities end. With player vs player combat the action is narrated by the GM.
Major and PvP combat actions are both very distinct from Minor combat actions. In minor combat, you can do whatever you like and be absolutely sure it will succeed. In Major combat, on the other hand, you will tell me what you want to do and I will roll dice to determine to what level you succeed. You might complete half of the action you wanted to, or less, or not at all.
In PvP combat, both sides are trying to complete an action at once. In most cases, this is not possible (the usual scenario is both parties say, "I stab him and block him if he stabs me"). The key is to remember that both actions happen at once: no sissy "taking turns" here. I will roll dice to determine not only to what level your action succeeds but how much your opponent manages to do as well. So what you say you want to do is not necessarily what you will do, because your opponent is trying to kill you as well.
In all versions of combat it pays to be clever or awesome. In minor combat, if you do something incredibly stupid, you'll get hurt. In major or PvP combat, doing something stupid will get you killed, and doing clever things will get you bonuses (i.e if you can stack the odds in your favor, it will help).
The Unknown is a game of exploration. During your adventures, you will delve into ancient ruins, encounter ancient cultures, and introduce all and sundry to the marvels of the modern age. Along the way, you will acquire treasure. Whether it's the sacred idol of some tribe of cannibals or the magical heart of an entire empire, your faction wants you to claim as much of the wealth of the Unknown as you can, in their name. And at the end of the day, who's going to notice a few small items skimmed off the top? Man's gotta eat, you know.
When there is a treasure hunt occurring--that is, when multiple players are competing for the same treasure--the rule is simple: whoever returns to the Cepolada or the baggage train with the treasure wins. At that point it is assumed that you have a secure hiding place of some kind to store your ill-gotten loot. This rule holds true unless you are being actively watched/pursued by someone, in which case you have to shake them before you can claim the treasure.
Death and Inactivity
Character death is something that is going to happen. People are trying to kill you, after all, just as you're out to get them. Similarly, there are going to be periods of time (sometimes very long ones) where certain people won't post at all. Occasionally, people will just vanish, never to be heard from again. In these cases, the character will either be killed (if I am fairly certain that the player won't be returning to the game) or made to vanish. If a character is vanished--that is to say, is removed from play without being killed off "on screen," as it were--then the player may rejoin the game when/if they get back online. If that player is you, all you have to do is drop me a PM and I'll say hey, turns out you didn't die from being swept out to sea, after all: you were just chilling on a beach somewhere, waiting for the Expedition to sail past so you could flag them down.
The death of an active player is a whole different story. It will happen, so be careful. There are only two rules for death: First, be aware that it may not be permanent. Certain advantages allow characters to return from near-death or actual-death experiences. Second, your character's secrets die with them. No telling living players who killed you, no telling anyone your faction or your mission or where you hid your secret weapon or which cup was poisoned or anything that might be of any conceivable use to a living player.
Unless, you know, they can talk to the dead. In which case, chat away.
These are general guidelines for playing in The Unknown. Read through them so you'll know what to expect and what is expected of you.
Whenever you post in the thread, please post at least a short paragraph. Single-line posts are unacceptable: two-line posts might be accepted, but those two lines had better be able to make Shakespeare weep and Genghis Khan shit himself. I will need documented proof of said weeping and shitting.
In other words, please put some effort into your posts.
Your character sheet--bio, advantages and disadvantages, faction, the whole lot of it--is secret. The other players will only know details about you if they're obvious (your race, for instance), if you tell them, or if they receive information on you from their faction. Information from your character sheets will be used to create rumors for the other players to worry over, but other than that everything is a secret. You will have to figure out who your fellow players are while at the same time trying to defend yourself from the hazards of the Unknown Continent and trying to complete your missions.
If you have any questions about specific details of the world, please ask me. The universe The Unknown is taking place in is a very detailed one that I've been working on for over a year, before I even came up with the idea for this game. Because of that, the world is very, very detailed, and occasionally confusing. If something needs clarifying, ask.
This game is not so much about what you know as what you don't know. Information given to you might not be complete, or might be utterly false. The only things you can trust are those you've experienced with your own senses, and not even then if there's a wizard skilled at illusion around. You will have to act stealthily, cautiously, and subtly, always worried about what you don't know, always trying to figure out events so they make some kind of sense.
Over the course of the game two unknowns will make themselves known to you. One is the obvious one: the Unknown Continent, a beacon of unexplored territory calling adventurers to it from across the sea.
The other unknown is your fellow players, and that is the most dangerous one of all.