CharNomic Initial Ruleset

adopted March 6, 1998

The following page is broken down into three sections:

  1. Immutable rules
  2. Mutable rules
  3. Notes to the ruleset

Immutable Rules

101. All players must always abide by all the rules then in effect, in the form in which they are then in effect. The rules in the Initial Set are in effect whenever a game begins. The Initial Set consists of Rules 101-116 (immutable) and 201-211 (mutable).

102. Initially rules in the 100's are immutable and rules in the 200's are mutable. Rules subsequently enacted or transmuted (that is, changed from immutable to mutable or vice versa) may be immutable or mutable regardless of their numbers, and rules in the Initial Set may be transmuted regardless of their numbers.

103. A rule-change is the enactment, repeal, or amendment of a mutable rule, or the transmutation of an immutable rule into a mutable rule or vice versa.

(Note: This definition implies that, at least initially, all new rules are mutable; immutable rules, as long as they are immutable, may not be amended or repealed; mutable rules, as long as they are mutable, may be amended or repealed; any rule of any status may be transmuted; no rule is absolutely immune to change.)

104. All rule-changes proposed in the proper way shall be voted on. They will be adopted if and only if they receive the required number of votes.  This vote will be completed within three days of the termination of debate.

105. Every player is an eligible voter.  Players vote by submitting email to the group indicating whether they are in favor of the proposal or against it.  Those players who do not vote within the allotted voting period will be assumed to have abstained.

106. All proposed rule-changes shall be disseminated to all players before they are voted on. If they are adopted, they shall guide play in the form in which they were voted on.

107. No rule-change may take effect earlier than the moment of the completion of the vote that adopted it, even if its wording explicitly states otherwise. No rule-change may have retroactive application.

108. Each proposed rule-change shall be given a number for reference. The numbers shall begin with 301, and each rule-change proposed in the proper way shall receive the next successive integer, whether or not the proposal is adopted.

If a rule is repealed and reenacted, it receives the number of the proposal to reenact it. If a rule is amended or transmuted, it receives the number of the proposal to amend or transmute it. If an amendment is amended or repealed, the entire rule of which it is a part receives the number of the proposal to amend or repeal the amendment.

109. Rule-changes that transmute immutable rules into mutable rules may be adopted if and only if the vote is two thirds in the affirmative among the eligible voters. Transmutation shall not be implied, but must be stated explicitly in a proposal to take effect.

110. In a conflict between a mutable and an immutable rule, the immutable rule takes precedence and the mutable rule shall be entirely void.  For the purposes of this rule a proposal to transmute an immutable rule does not "conflict" with that immutable rule.

111.  A reasonable time must be allowed for debate. The proponent decides the final form in which the proposal is to be voted on and, unless the Judge has been asked to do so, also decides the time to end debate.

112. The state of affairs that constitutes winning may not be altered from achieving n points to any other state of affairs. The magnitude of n and the means of earning points may be changed, and rules that establish a winner when play cannot continue may be enacted and (while they are mutable) be amended or repealed.

113. A player always has the option to forfeit the game rather than continue to play or incur a game penalty. No penalty worse than losing, in the judgment of the player to incur it, may be imposed.

114. There must always be at least one mutable rule. The adoption of rule-changes must never become completely impermissible.

115. Rule-changes that affect rules needed to allow or apply rule-changes are as permissible as other rule-changes. Even rule-changes that amend or repeal their own authority are permissible. No rule-change or type of move is impermissible solely on account of the self-reference or self-application of a rule.

116. Whatever is not prohibited or regulated by a rule is permitted and unregulated, with the sole exception of changing the rules, which is permitted only when a rule or set of rules explicitly or implicitly permits it.

Mutable Rules

201. All players begin with zero points.

202. A player may propose a rule-change at any time.  No player may have more than one proposal under consideration at any one time.

203. The players who vote against winning proposals shall receive 10 points each.

204. An adopted rule-change takes full effect at the moment it receives a majority of votes in the affirmative among the eligible voters.

205. When a proposed rule-change is adopted, the player who proposed it receives 10 points, but cannot receive additional points for voting against this proposal..

206. When a proposed rule-change is defeated, the player who proposed it loses 10 points.

207. Each player always has exactly one vote for each proposal.

208. The winner is the first player to achieve 200 (positive) points.

209. At no time may there be more than 25 mutable rules.

210. If two or more mutable rules conflict with one another, or if two or more immutable rules conflict with one another, then the rule with the lowest ordinal number takes precedence.

If at least one of the rules in conflict explicitly says of itself that it defers to another rule (or type of rule) or takes precedence over another rule (or type of rule), then such provisions shall supersede the numerical method for determining precedence.

If two or more rules claim to take precedence over one another or to defer to one another, then the numerical method again governs.

211. If players disagree about the legality, interpretation or application of a rule, then the player call upon the Judge to decide the question. Disagreement for the purposes of this rule may be created by the insistence of any player. This process is called invoking Judgment.

An alphabetical list of all players will be maintained, called the Player Roster.  The Judge will be selected from this list, beginning with the first name on the list.  Thereafter, before each decision, the next player on the list will act as Judge.  In such cases where the Judge is involved in the dispute, this person will be skipped in favor of the next player on the roster, until a non-involved player is selected.

The Judge will have twenty-four hours from the time the decision is called for to publish a ruling.  If the Judge fails to do so, responsibility for judgement will fall to the next player on the roster, as specified above.

A Judge’s decision may be appealed by any player.  The Judge's Judgment may be overruled only by a 2/3 vote of the other players completed within forty-eight hours. If a Judge's Judgment is overruled, then a new Judge is selected as specified above for the question, and so on.

New Judges are not bound by the decisions of old Judges. New Judges may, however, settle only those questions on which the players currently disagree. All decisions by Judges shall be in accordance with all the rules then in effect; but when the rules are silent, inconsistent, or unclear on the point at issue, then the Judge shall consider game-custom and the spirit of the game before applying other standards.


The above rules are adapted from Suber's original ruleset. Suber's original ruleset was intended for a face-to-face game, however.  Thus, we have altered the rules to more easily accomodate an email game.  One primary concern was the issue of missing players.  That is, given the time constraints of all the players involved, not everyone would be able to play at all times.  Thus, we tried to structure the rules so that play could continue despite the inactivity of one or more players.

One rule that was dropped from Suber's ruleset was the one commonly referred to as the "Win by Paradox" rule (rule 213).  Basically, it stated that if a situation arose wherein a paradox developed (i.e., a player could make a move that was both legal and illegal), or if not further play could go on, then the first player to encounter this would win.  This rule had the advantage in that it gave clever players a "quick win" option, but ultimately it seemed unusable in an email game.  Since our ruleset had completely dispensed with the idea of "turns", there seemed no way to allow a player to win by paradox.

Rule 211 was perhaps the most difficult rule to adapt for an email game.  In Suber's original rules, the player who served as Judge was determined by the order of play, i.e., the seating of the players.  Of course, this was untenable with an email game.  The best compromise we could come up with was to generate a alphabetized Player Roster and base the selection of judges on this.  This rule certainly has a number of flaws with it, and probably will be one of the first to be amended.

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This page last updated March 6, 1998 by Harry Culpan.