While the first three complete months saw a total of 704 emails to Axiom's mailing list, the next twelve months saw only 276 emails as the game lay dormant for long periods of time with intermittent flurries of scams and counterscams. It is perhaps interesting to note that during this relatively slow period, Axiom saw its first successful coup come to fruition and be toppled. More on this later.
It is ironically amusing to note that the first Quarterly Report ended with the following call to action:
"I for one think that Axiom has the opportunity to be an excellent nomic with more explicit and logic rules (and more tangled hierarchies) than any nomic I know of. Let's get back to the game and hang our silent caps back up on eir vacation racks. Winter Break is over... Time to get kicked back into gear on the game!"For though Axiom experienced quite a few massive rule changes in the approximately 15 months that it lay dormant, most of these involved massive patching, crash and burn power tactics, and wholesale destruction.
In the last quarterly report, it was mentioned that a system had been devised for different rules to be placed in different books which would govern different portions of the rule defined coordinate space. In what was glancingly referred to as the "Sloppy Crisis" it was discovered that R430 and R431 may have been ambiguously timed in their creating proposal... and since they used the same extension text in their titles (namely no text) only one could have been created... except that the timing rule specified that contradictory and ill-timed actions *both* fail to occur. It was eventually decided in public, though apathetic, discussion that the attempt to create both rules was a failure. This was generally considered a good thing, as the rules sloppy manner of the rules creation was mirrored in their sloppy text which (depending upon interpretation) might have shut off access to the entire ruleset were it not for a lucky precedence save...
Jennifer (then known as Gödel) created Prop 54, Sanity Reforms I which redid the proposal system which e considered flawed due to the ability of players to number props however they wished while simultaneously preventing the successful creation of proposals if their name was improperly specified. This lead to many a proposal being submitted several times when it was discovered "nope, that number was taken too..." Jennifer's proposal created a new system that worked the same way as proposals except they were called propositions and were automatically numbered (starting with one more than the number of genuine props already dealt with). Gabe Drummond-Cole (of later coup infamy) was the only player to respond negatively to this and his comments were predictable given that it was primary eir Discordian numbering that confused so many other people: "boo!!! too much reading!!!! if i wanted reading like that, i'd play agora. or read the dictionary. or something." As a point of reference, the first proposition was numbered 386 and the last 411.
Axiom basically languished for a while and then Gabe sprang his coup. It involved a system that had been installed to give players a way to access the inner game state directly through player to player interaction (as opposed to using "fiat" which was the name for "player" to "in game construct" actions) as a safety mechanism to prevent game crashes. The relevant rule was:
Rule 50, Go Ahead And Crash It - We Have Airbags Status: Mutable If a player believes that Axiom is broken beyond repair (absent the application of this rule) e may announce this to the other players in an Emergency Declaration Intending to Catch a Trick. EDICTs are objects. If any player announces eir objection to an EDICT then it is a false EDICT. If no player objects to an EDICT within a week of its announcement, or all players agree to it, then the player who announced it may announce eir General reOrdering Document. GODs are objects. If no player announces eir objection to a GOD within a week of its announcement, or all players agree to it, then the GOD is said to be true, at which point the player who announced the GOD fiats the game by performing the actions described in it. This is the only case where a player may fiat anything but the citizen controlled by em. It is considered good form for the player to give eir citizen a win in such circumstances. This rule takes precedence over all other rules which conflict with it.On January 15, 1999 Gabe returned to the game (after leaving in a snit earlier) in a glorious burst of random blather that included an off the cuff issuing of 413 EDICTs. Then on February 8, 1999 Gabe issued another EDICT which claimed that we needed a strong leader and immeadiately followed it up with a GOD that instituted Rule 2, Gabe the Great which game em control over the ruleset. It was then explained to Gabe that GODs could only come after a week of waiting. Gabe waited until February 16, 1999 to respond that *of course* e didn't issue the GOD on the contemporaneous EDICT, but on one of the many he'd issued about a month ago....
There ensued a bitter argument wherein Dieter Dehlinger invoked a "foul pizza clause" that he claimed had been in the ruleset since the inception of the game, and around this time several players left in disgust over the depths to which discussions had sunk.
Then it was pointed out that the 413 EDICTs had been issued as a batch which CFJ#9 (see the first quarter report) prohibits. At this point Rule 314, Do Nothing Actions entered the debates. R314 was a measure instituted wherein things that shouldn't have happened but everyone thought did at the time would be pragmatically recreated as though they had happened in some rule defined manner. Which means that Gabe got eir EDICTs by accident and the coup was actually successful. Thus began the reign of Emperor Malaclypse (as eir citizen was called).
Gabe's reign was short and brutish to be quite honest. E instituted a system of formal corruption with the creation of the R90X rules, the so-called Government Contracts which awarded energy (the currency of Axiom in that era) to citizens who created rules defining such things as prisons, political prisoners, and the cutting off of hands.
Another Imperial idea was to create an alternative name for Axiom: Canada. This was due to a recent spate of anti-Canadian rhetoric in Ackanomic (lead by the Anti Canadian Kamikaze Alliance, which Gabe had happened to have founded in Acka), which had a proposal in *its* queue that declared war against Canada. It was Gabe's hope that by renaming Axiom, e could cause Acka's proposal to misfire and target Axiom (now also named Canada) and produce effects in Acka from this mistargeting. [If you're interested, Acka had a tradition of accepting such name switcheroos as valid so long as they occurred before a term came into actual use in the ruleset, a trick known in Acka as Malenkai's Loophole after the player of Acka who first used such a trick. Instead of simply reworking it's metaphysics to prevent such a thing, Acka had taken a variety of measures restricting the development of names that could produce the loophole, ensuring that actual instances of the loophole's use in the future would need to be particularly clever.] Gabe's plans ended up failing when a former Ackan (who was Canadian) returned to that game to found All Canadians are Kind and Amiable and fight the Ackan war prop into defeat.
Gabe made a point several times of desiring that e establish a tradition that Emperors should not step down but be forced down in a counter coup. The nomic ethics e proposed were that Emperors could and should take measures against such counter coups only when they had almost succeeded and otherwise restrict emselves to non-invasive harf such as the government contract thing. Little did anyone realize that practically the next thing to happen would be eir downfall.
P392, Magna Carta was authored by Tyrrell McAllister on August 18, 1999. Its stated intent was to remove the teeth of the Emperor, leaving Gabe with a title, but no ability to change the ruleset. In a series of accidental mistypes of Proposition numbers, Tyrrell then ran the prop number up to 399 with a series of confusing retractions and reforms of other areas of the ruleset that seemed to need reform, among them the R50 and some metaphysics rules. Meanwhile, Gabe set the status of all of those propositions which he perceived as threatening to "Rejected".
In an August 26, 1999 email titled Free at last, Free at last, Tyrrell explained the following:
I just thought I'd point out that due to a flaw discovered by Gödel [editor: Jennifer Mueller] in the rules governing retracted props, my P392, Magna Carta, was accepted at midnight last night. Gabe's citizen can no longer change the rules of Axiom as a public action. The flaw which allowed this to happen is in Rule 109, which states that "[w]hen a Finalized proposition has its status changed to Retracted, all votes on that proposition are discarded." Since P392 was a finalized prop which had its status changed to retracted, the two votes for it were discarded, changing the ratio of [votes for the prop] to [votes on the prop] to 0/0. Yet Rule 301, Voting Procedures, states that "[i]f (the number of votes that indicated support for the proposition) / (the number of total votes on the proposition) evaluates to 0/0 then the proposition is Accepted." Hence my proposition was accepted. This occurred despite the fact that Gabe had earlier changed P392's status to "rejected" with Rule 7777777, for a brief perusal of Rule 301, Voting Procedures, will show that the status of "rejected" has no rule defined consequences such as, for example, preventing the acceptance of a proposition seven days after it was finalized.And the counter coup had succeeded.
There was a bit of fooling around after that with the idea of letting other nomics join Axiom and get citizens of eir own and an attempt at reallocating energy so that the economy would not be become too unbalanced in favor of very old players (who'd been accumulating about 3 Oomphs of energy a week for quite a while now), but things basically setteled down again with 5 emails in October of '99, 7 in November, and 14 in December. The only really exciting thing that happened in this period was another rather unsuccessful coup attempt.
Karl Low attempted to seize power by informing us of a prop that e claimed to have taken action on but that e "forgot to send this to the main list." Then based on an earlier discussion that had taken place regarding the metaphysics of actions occurring and how this related to the mailing list e claimed that the prop (which made em Emperor by editing Gabe's old "trophy" rule left over from the Magna Carta) had actually been submitted and passed already.
Jennifer brought up the following quotes:
R103: "Entities may only be affected by acts permitted or described by the rules." R102: "Things that exist in the World, Objects, do so without and/or despite the rules. Object acts which affect entities are called fiats. Fiat may only be exercised as described in the rules." R104: "When some player communicates with the other players, statements to the general effect that 'I do ...' are taken to mean that the player fiats the citizen e controls such that the citizen performs the action if it is capable, where context indicates the statement should be taken as such."And Karl admitted he'd not considered those clauses in sequence and that he was no in point of fact an Emperor. Personally, I was rather impressed by the way e took it, as I might have argued down to tiny matters of interpretation after having gotten use to the idea of being Emperor.
The coup attempt and minor legislative actions took place up to December and there followed a totally email-less period until March 19, 2000, when Jeff Reinecke, the founder of Axiom's precursor Simplex joined the game and attempted to take control of a citizen that the web pages mistakenly still listed as available for control.
This spawned a conversation between several players of Axiom and some people who'd simply been hanging out on the list for a while, waiting to see what happened. It was decided to get the ball rolling again, and P411, Starting Anew was authored by Jennifer. It repealed everything on the game except R101 and R102 which were massively retooled (but retained so that there would be a little continuity between the older incarnation of Axiom and this newer version.
P411 set up a minic system with almost no formality, under the assumption that a major part of the problem with Axiom had been the difficulty of following the overwrought language and variety of attributes and naming conventions and formalities which prevented hideous mistakes (that wouldn't be made anyway) by being very explicit about the metaphysics of the game. P411 pass on April 1, 2000 which happens to be the first day of the sixth quarter of Axiom, making it fair game for the next quarterly installment of Axiom's history. Hopefully that story will be as exciting as the last several quarters and much denser than they...
No CFJs of significance were dealt with during the entirety of the second through the fifth quarters. Several issues that were unresolved from the first few weeks of the game remained unresolved until the CFJ's were destroyed by P411. This was largely the result of the complete apathy on the part of judges assigned to these cases and the criminal negligence of the Poobah of Authority (Jennifer Mueller) who only reassigned the cases to new judges *very* sporadically. It didn't help that Gabe, in a fit of pique during eir first few days as Emperor (when players were setting eir citizens to "Dead" and leaving) reset em to "Alive!" and hence put non-functional citizens back into the running for random judge assignments. Compound this with the fact that judges frequently were being asked to make decisions about issues that hadn't even occurred since they had joined the mailing list, and you perhaps can understand the lack of judicial news.
EDITORIAL: NOMIC ETHICS
I just wanted to fill some space and have a bit of general analysis to go with some of the blow by blow descriptions of things that happened. Specifically, I wanted to throw out some thought on the ethics of nomic playing.
I’ve been able to develop three moderately compelling ethical systems for dealing with nomic play, and a fourth "non-ethics" that serves as a foil for the first three. I call the three ethical systems "Everybody Be Nice", "To Scam With Honor", and "The Fair Fight". The fourth non ethical system would probably be termed "The Dirty Fight".
An explanation in reverse order would probably be most appropriate. The Dirty Fight is the position someone would take if they wanted to be involved in the nomic community and take a (temporary) position of prominence in it. This person would not want to play nomic, so much as to get the feeling of nomic playing and "winning" without be constrained by such minor considerations as the foundations of the game. This person would have no problem purposefully harfing things in a slightly incorrect manner and then using this change for advantage six months later, after everyone had forgotten what the details of that proposal were. Fundamentally, a Dirty Fighter places no limits on their behavior with respect to nomic.
The Fair Fighter by contrast, desires to achieve success within certain constraints not forced on them, but adopted to make things "challenging". The objection might be raised that this is a pretty fuzzy definition, so I will tighten this up a bit, and clarify that the constraints the Fair Fighter adopts are *only* those that cannot be legislated in the nomic. If there were private voting, with a Fair Fighter receiving the votes, e would not miscount purposefully. If there were legal requirements that e vote *before* looking at how everyone else voted, e would do so, as any advantage derived from this "uncheckable cheating" would undermine the playability of the game and the worth of succeeding within it.
To highlight the difference between a Fair Fighter and someone who wanted to Scam With Honor, an example from Ackanomic proves useful. In Ackanomic, there was a strong tradition (virtually a meta-rule that was not amendable) that once a scam had taken place, the loophole it exposed was off limits to any self respecting player. Everyone would admit that the rules as written might permit other people to make a billion units of currency (or whatever the scam did) but to actually do so and copycat another player who had discovered this was considered bad form. A Fair Fighter would have gone ahead and taken the money anyway: it was legal.
Gabe Drummond-Cole’s failure to step down as Emperor and Imperial attempt to quash anything that threatened eir power was totally consistent with the Fair Fighter ethical system.
Honorable Scammers are in another boat however. Instead of accepting the limits of the ruleset and stopping there, they tend to build other limits into eir behavior. Just because it is possible to use 4 of 11 players to execute a power grab, doesn’t make it elegant. An Honorable Scammer might limit emselves to coup attempts that involved only one player, or perhaps two co-conspirators. Honorable Scammers might tend to voluntarily give up an Emperorship once them got it. There are as many variations on the Honorable Scammer as there are limits that you can imagine, but the Honorable Scammer has clear traits that distinguish em from someone who follows an Everybody Be Nice philosophy.
A Nice Player is one who takes no interest in "conflict" or doing things "against" other players. When a nice players sees a scam, they try to patch it. There are a variety of possible motives for this player, as with the Honorable Scammer. Nice Players might simply be uninterested in that sort of nomic game, or they might actively be seeking a harmonious balance in the game, following the same sort of feeling that shies away from email flame wars.
The spectrum described here then , is one of limits. From the "non-ethical" person who might arguably not even be a player who permits nothing to circumscribe eir actions, through successive layers of limitations until you leave behind the problem of limits because you’re not trying to "gain" anything that can be gotten through breaking rules or codes of conduct.
But wait! (I hear some of you asking) Wasn’t this supposed to be an editorial?
I personally would describe myself as somewhere between an Honorable Scammer and a Nice Player, depending on the circumstances, but I would like to introduce precautionary advice. In all of this, I’ve not mentioned the possibility that any scam attempts risk the possibility of a nomic crash which would bring the game to an abrupt end. I would like to request that all of you who tend toward the less restrained end of the ethical spectrum, contain yourselves for a while anyway, while Axiom builds its way out of its new smallness. We are in a crash prone era, and scams could take the whole game down if carried out too early in the life of the new ruleset and with too little regard for the playability of the game, and that would ruin the whole thing, even for anyone who happens to be a Dirty Fighter.
The factual assertions and views expressed herein are those of the author, not of the administrator of the mailing list, of the publisher of Axiom's Quarterly Report, or of Axiom itself. Notification of errors should be directed to the wastebasket nearest you.
Last Updated: 4/7/2000 7:00pm PST
Author: Jennifer Mueller
If you're wonder whether the game is still going, message me at firstname.lastname@example.org