Author Topic: A New Storyteller's Perspective  (Read 7916 times)

Wyx

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A New Storyteller's Perspective
« on: February 10, 2009, 11:14:19 PM »
Hi guys. Long time player, first time storyteller. I've had the brilliant idea to write out a post, or rather a series of posts, detailing my experiences as a storyteller in my first couple weeks. debunking a few rumours and sharing some of the awesome or befuddling things that I've seen, heard, or done.

You're welcome to discuss, but please keep it on topic, and ask questions if you'd like. This is not meant to compete or be similar to Rahnevyn's thread - please keep questions related to the game experience as a whole.


***
Wow, you guys write some extremely detailed weekly updates and emails. That's awesome and great. It's also sometimes hard to follow. Those that use cliff notes at the beginning or detail/embolden what needs some kind of staff response make things a lot easier.

***
There's SO MUCH HISTORY in the game, and a LOT of it is player-created. You have no idea how deep that rabbit hole goes.

***
Animating NPCs takes a bit more than many players realize. We need to know why you need the NPC animated (something the players need to provide); we need to know the background of the NPC (which we must look up); we need to check any notes on interaction between yourself and the NPC in question (which we must also look up); we must have permissions to animate in the area (which must be set if they are not); and if the NPC in question is clan-related, we must be one of the staff in charge of the clan, lest we ruin things that they have been setting up.

***
The night I was "recruited," there were thirteen staff members on. THIRTEEN! I had no idea that many would be logged in at once.

***
On the same topic, some wishes and similar interactions may not get a reply because we're constantly busy with something or another. There were eight staff members on the other night. Three of us were actively watching the game; two were idle, likely coding or handling things via the webpages; two were building furiously; and one was actively animating an NPC and echoing to players. During that time a wish came up that none of us were able to handle at the time, as it required an HL+ to work with.


More will be coming. I invite your questions, within reason, and also invite the other three new Storytellers to share their experiences.

Semper

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2009, 12:28:41 AM »
Don't know if you're privy to tell, but what were the first few things you did when you became staff? (Mostly just curious.)
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Wyx

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2009, 12:34:25 AM »
The first things I did were review the rules as presented to us. Adhira, Vanth and company got me set up with access to the staff websites, emails, and so forth.

After this we were practically set loose, and so I chose to spend my time reading all about things in the game I'd always wondered, and visiting places I'd seen as a player to get the back story of them.

I was pleasantly surprised at how rich and deep the world is, in this regard. I studied the staff documentation for probably the first four or five days, and it is still something I love to read.

After this, I animated someone's beetle, as well as gave echoes to someone in a sandstorm. I also monitored players for quite some time.

Other than and after that, not much I can share.

SMuz

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2009, 02:26:31 AM »
What about following other players and seeing how they play? Do you guys simply look at a list of players, "teleport to (character)", "follow (character)", and then get some popcorn and watch, taking down notes?

And are imms around 24 hours, especially off-peak?

Was there a lot of history related to animating someone's beetle?

Are some of those NPCs really formerly stored characters? Are say, the Bynners hanging around the Gaj only allowed for animation by the T'zai Byn, or the Kadian merchant in the Bazaar only animated by those in charge of House Kadius?
Clans can give stat bonuses and penalties, too. The Byn drop in wisdom is particularly notorious.

Ourla

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2009, 02:48:11 AM »
There's SO MUCH HISTORY in the game, and a LOT of it is player-created. You have no idea how deep that rabbit hole goes.

This right here is the most heartening and positive thing I've heard on the GDB for months.  Thanks for that.
The secret to great RP is having the balls to be weird and the brains to make it eloquent.

Wyx

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2009, 03:33:05 AM »
What about following other players and seeing how they play? Do you guys simply look at a list of players, "teleport to (character)", "follow (character)", and then get some popcorn and watch, taking down notes?
There's a command we can use, with arguments, called "monitor" that lets us watch what you input to the game and what you see. We can do a full-blown monitor (and many of us do, for those in our clans), or we can narrow it down to, say, only magick. Something I like to do is monitor all the players in my clans, and then monitor everyone's use of magick, psionics, and rogue talents to keep up on who's doing what.

Quote
And are imms around 24 hours, especially off-peak?
I can't promise there's someone on literally every waking moment of the MUD, no, but I can say that generally, yep - I haven't logged in, even off-peak, to an empty house.

Quote
Was there a lot of history related to animating someone's beetle?
No, it was a pick-up-and-go sort of thing. Unless someone's been around for a while and has developed a bond with their mount, or has a mount that's particularly special, nothing really needs to be done for trivial animations like that.

Quote
Are some of those NPCs really formerly stored characters?
Not every stored PC becomes an NPC and not every NPC is a stored PC, but yes, it occasionally happens.

Quote
Are say, the Bynners hanging around the Gaj only allowed for animation by the T'zai Byn, or the Kadian merchant in the Bazaar only animated by those in charge of House Kadius?
On things this trivial, not really. However, the line is a bit sketchy, and one must be careful not to overstep their bounds. Animating a certain animal that holds significance to a clan may not be kosher with that clan's staff, for example. Animating higher-ranking NPCs in any clan, I usually only do with explicit permission for a reason.

Majikal

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2009, 07:04:08 AM »
Did you find any jokes/easter eggs in the game while being curious, things like silly rooms disconnected from the game world or npc backgrounds/names? Can you throw us a few of them if so?  :P
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Niamh

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2009, 07:06:07 AM »
When new staff steps into the game, there is a great deal for them to learn.  The documentation is enormous, and takes a good chunk of time to read through.  The documentation doesn't just include history and clan information, it also includes information about rules, intent, as well as a ton of instructional information to help with things such as building.  I had no idea just how much was involved with staffing until I came on staff, and I'll admit I was very intimidated by that.  But we all plug away, and the experienced staff members are all very helpful when it comes to helping us newbies learn the ropes.  I've been on staff just a few months shy of a year, and I still feel like a noob.  I have to say though, that being on staff has definitely made me appreciate that much more what the staff has done for me as a player.
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Niamh

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2009, 07:08:29 AM »
Did you find any jokes/easter eggs in the game while being curious, things like silly rooms disconnected from the game world or npc backgrounds/names? Can you throw us a few of them if so?  :P

Godzilla.  I brought him into my seekrit private IMM room.

Code: [Select]
A gargantuan green lizard stands on two legs, swinging his arms madly.
- the city of Tokyo floats about his head.
Eastman: he came out of the east to do battle with The Amazing Rando!

SMuz

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2009, 07:20:39 AM »
Are conversations, thinks, and feels logged? So, if like, I wanted to flesh out my past and ambitions for the future using dreams, would it be noticed?

Are we encouraged to use "change objective" when we want to do something interesting that we want you to watch, like "change objective I'm planning to backstab Amos tommorrow" or "I'm trying to convince the templar that Amos is an ungemmed magicker"

Are storytellers allowed to animate silly, frivolous wishes like "Me and my hunting party are out in the salt flats hunting scrabs. Can we have a salt worm ambush us from underneath?" Or since it'll get them killed, are you more likely to send a raptor on them instead? Or just ignore it?
Clans can give stat bonuses and penalties, too. The Byn drop in wisdom is particularly notorious.

Thunkkin

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2009, 08:06:32 AM »
There's a command we can use, with arguments, called "monitor" that lets us watch what you input to the game and what you see. We can do a full-blown monitor (and many of us do, for those in our clans), or we can narrow it down to, say, only magick. Something I like to do is monitor all the players in my clans, and then monitor everyone's use of magick, psionics, and rogue talents to keep up on who's doing what.

Wouldn't it be a bit spammy for you to see all the "contact" messages?

I asked Rahn about this, and he answered along the lines of "don't worry, you won't be spamming the imms."  But I'm curious to hear your take on it - I tend to enter score/stat/skills /eq as almost a nervous tick.  Is this annoying to a monitoring imm?
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Morgenes

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2009, 09:05:07 AM »
There's a command we can use, with arguments, called "monitor" that lets us watch what you input to the game and what you see. We can do a full-blown monitor (and many of us do, for those in our clans), or we can narrow it down to, say, only magick. Something I like to do is monitor all the players in my clans, and then monitor everyone's use of magick, psionics, and rogue talents to keep up on who's doing what.

Wouldn't it be a bit spammy for you to see all the "contact" messages?

I asked Rahn about this, and he answered along the lines of "don't worry, you won't be spamming the imms."  But I'm curious to hear your take on it - I tend to enter score/stat/skills /eq as almost a nervous tick.  Is this annoying to a monitoring imm?

None of the informational commands (such as score/stat/skills/inventory/equipment) show up on monitor, but they are logged.  Monitor allows us to keep a birds eye view of the world without having to be in multiple places at once.  Because it's easier for me to get at right now (Arm 1 is rebooting), here's the syntax for monitor in Arm 2:

Code: [Select]
>syntax monitor
Syntax: monitor none
        monitor all [flag...]
        monitor <person> [flag...]
        monitor location <number> [flag...]
        monitor clan <clan name or number> [flag...]
        monitor allInLocation <number> [flag...]
Valid flags are:
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
     comms          merchant       position       rogue          fight
     magick         movement       psionics       crafting       other
     inLocation     includeNpc     ignore

The 'valid flags' list shows the different things we can watch.
Morgenes

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Wyx

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2009, 10:27:57 AM »
Did you find any jokes/easter eggs in the game while being curious, things like silly rooms disconnected from the game world or npc backgrounds/names? Can you throw us a few of them if so?  :P

There are a few NPCs in-game, mainly creatures, that have hilarious names. I don't want to spoil anything for you, but in short - yes.

JustAnotherGuy

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2009, 10:42:51 AM »
This is Transparency.  If anyone has read what I asked in the Staff Chat... this is it.  Thank you Wyx, this is a great read and it will help create a closer bond between staff and player just by you doing it.  One question for you though...  were you overwhelmed by how much stuff In-Game you didn't know about?  (People, places, things?)
Or you might get me.
Quote
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Shalooonsh

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2009, 11:02:53 AM »
Hey Wyx, sorry to stomp on your thread a bit, but I'd like to answer this one:

Quote
Are storytellers allowed to animate silly, frivolous wishes like "Me and my hunting party are out in the salt flats hunting scrabs. Can we have a salt worm ambush us from underneath?" Or since it'll get them killed, are you more likely to send a raptor on them instead? Or just ignore it?

Storytellers are allowed, but there are grey areas.  If it's an independent player who wishes up, with an entirely independent crew with them, then whichever storyteller wants to jump on it can do so.  If it's, say, some Kadian fat madman on sunback surrounded by Kadian hunters and Byn, then it is etiquette to let the staff of one of those two clans have first go.  If you are not commanding staff of one of those two clans, and you do respond, the rule of thumb is to scare heavily before inserting doom.  Give the players plenty of chances to run as they see that things are going badly.  If the players decide to stand and fight (you would (or maybe not?) be surprised at how many do this) after repeated "You are Doomed" notifications, then the storyteller is allowed to treat themselves to a free brainz buffet.

The second grey area is that of geographic locale.  If a pack of Red Fangs gets uppity and decides to go cause some trouble in Tuluk and wish up for interaction of this sort, the Tuluki staff are fully within rights to murder them horribly in very creative ways, and the same stands for any pack of city folk spotted in Red Fang territory.  Ultimately it comes down to environment.  If the environment would respond lethally, then the storyteller should respond lethally.  A pack of city folk on North Road wishing up for fun?  Not so deadly.  A pack of city folk on a certain mesa surrounded by a certain type of claw footed, unwashed masses?  Decidedly more so.

In short, yes, we are allowed to respond to wishes of that type, but as another player's sig says "Be careful what you wish all for."  You may get a nice and gentle Storyteller who just likes to give you some scare and a bit of an arrow tickle, like Niamh or Qetesh.

Or you might get me.
"This time, when she at him, she took all of him in. His sandy hair, the line of his jaw, the span of his shoulders. This time when she looked, she actually saw him."
-Fela, finally noticing Simmon - A Wise Man's Fear

spicemustflow

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2009, 11:34:43 AM »
I'm sorry to derail Wyx's thread, but this seems like good place to ask the question. Since I joined the game, it's been a running joke on the forums that a wish for interaction invariably ends in being brutally murdered. But Vanth stated that staff are not allowed to kill players. So, a human is lost somewhere in the tablelands, a lethal environment, and he wishes for some interaction, will you give him a fair chance or will just summon a Blackwing raiding party and make a short work of him? Will he be able to barter for his life? Or do anything at all except die?

Gimfalisette

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2009, 11:58:46 AM »
Just chiming in from a player's perspective--I used to be really paranoiacally afraid that staff would "have it out for" my PCs if there was any interaction at all, and my PC would end up dead. Now, obviously this is a definite possibility--because when interacting with anyone or anything in ARM there is a definite possibility of death. But overall my experiences with staff have shown that they are primarily up there, just wanting to make a good time happen. And when I say "my experiences with staff" I mean things like full-on gith assaults, teeming hordes of nasty desert critters, Black Robes of Doom, kidnapping mega-magickers, etc. What I'm saying is: Relax. They've got a handle on it, they can see the whole situation, and they're not trying to gank you.
I'm gonna go all Gimfalisette on you guys and lay down some numbers.

Shalooonsh

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2009, 12:05:31 PM »
I'm sorry to derail Wyx's thread, but this seems like good place to ask the question. Since I joined the game, it's been a running joke on the forums that a wish for interaction invariably ends in being brutally murdered. But Vanth stated that staff are not allowed to kill players. So, a human is lost somewhere in the tablelands, a lethal environment, and he wishes for some interaction, will you give him a fair chance or will just summon a Blackwing raiding party and make a short work of him? Will he be able to barter for his life? Or do anything at all except die?

We always give a fair chance.  There is no instantly summoned Blackwing war party.  It all depends on how things are at the moment, however.  There are a myriad of possibilities for survival, like you said, they might be able to barter.  They may also just get several emotes/echos that hint that they are in extreme danger and should get the heck out of there.  Some players do not barter well.  Other players do not believe that the character should feel fear in a certain situation.  These will lead to doom.

Storytellers (myself included) have even been known to make extreme exceptions to allow characters to survive.  For instance, one scene I ran over a year ago involved a certain tribal person who was living in a cave.  This cave was collapsing due to events.  A 'cave in,' if you will.  This is not a normally survivable situation for anyone, I do not care how tough you are.  I gave several emotes to this effect, beyond my better judgement (in reality the ceiling would have completely collapsed within about 10 seconds, the scene ran for the better part of two minutes).  The character survived, but only after grabbing two thick bags of loot, -dragging- them to the exit, dropping them, and then running BACK in to the collapsing cave for two more.  I let the individual survive, even though, in my heart of hearts, I knew I should not have.  That character went on to play for several more months, happily doing what they wanted, and spurring several interesting player-formed plotlines.  I am quite glad they survived, even though every fiber of my being thought they should have been crushed into a thick red paste.
"This time, when she at him, she took all of him in. His sandy hair, the line of his jaw, the span of his shoulders. This time when she looked, she actually saw him."
-Fela, finally noticing Simmon - A Wise Man's Fear

manonfire

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #18 on: February 11, 2009, 12:07:45 PM »

Or you might get me.

I like it when you're menacing.

Give me more.



Shalooonsh

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2009, 12:14:32 PM »
I've derailed enough.

WYX!  Return to your well-trod upon thread!
"This time, when she at him, she took all of him in. His sandy hair, the line of his jaw, the span of his shoulders. This time when she looked, she actually saw him."
-Fela, finally noticing Simmon - A Wise Man's Fear

tortall

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2009, 01:45:18 PM »
If the players decide to stand and fight (you would (or maybe not?) be surprised at how many do this) after repeated "You are Doomed" notifications, then the storyteller is allowed to treat themselves to a free brainz buffet.

Siged.
The man asks you:
     "'Bout damn time, lol.  She didn't bang you up too bad, did she?"
The man says, ooc:
     "OG did i jsut do that?"

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That's not a random thought either.

Wyx

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #21 on: February 11, 2009, 01:53:02 PM »
Are we encouraged to use "change objective" when we want to do something interesting that we want you to watch, like "change objective I'm planning to backstab Amos tommorrow" or "I'm trying to convince the templar that Amos is an ungemmed magicker"
I check peoples' objectives quite often, but some don't. It's all a matter of you having the objective when we're checking them; those that change objectives once or twice a day (like I used to) may see many of those objectives fall through the cracks. A good rule of thumb: when in doubt, send in an email to your clan staff or to the unclanned staff if you're not in a clan. If it needs to get to the staff, do it. If it's frivolous and doesn't really matter if the staff see it, throw it on an objective.

Quote
Are storytellers allowed to animate silly, frivolous wishes like "Me and my hunting party are out in the salt flats hunting scrabs. Can we have a salt worm ambush us from underneath?" Or since it'll get them killed, are you more likely to send a raptor on them instead? Or just ignore it?
As Looon said - no plots may ever be spawned with the intent of killing players. We are, however, fully within our rights to make the world respond realistically. This means if you are pegging a gortok with a dozen arrows and one of us happens to see, we may make it run and hide, or make it approach you to attack; if you are in a Very Bad Place near Luir's, things may happen; if you're trespassing on certain clans' land, they may come for you (or PCs may be notified via IC methods to come for you).

This is Transparency.  If anyone has read what I asked in the Staff Chat... this is it.  Thank you Wyx, this is a great read and it will help create a closer bond between staff and player just by you doing it.
That was sort of the goal. Over the years many reputations have accrued for this game. The two that come to mind are "the Tan Muark are coddled" and "the staff is a bunch of total assholes." Having seen these from both a player's perspective and a Storyteller's, I can say that that's decidedly not the case on either count. I want to convey this, and I think a bit more transparency is more than helpful in dispelling these age-old rumours.

Quote
One question for you though...  were you overwhelmed by how much stuff In-Game you didn't know about?  (People, places, things?)
To a degree. I had played a number of high-sensitivity roles - nobles, GMH members, psis, sorcs, elementalists, and a couple of well-informed and well-traveled indie rangers and warriors - and so I knew quite a bit.

That said, there's a lot nobody knows, and that I think you'll all enjoy knowing when the time comes for you to find out - when Arm 1 has finished its run.

Vanth

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #22 on: February 11, 2009, 02:06:57 PM »
I'm sorry to derail Wyx's thread, but this seems like good place to ask the question. Since I joined the game, it's been a running joke on the forums that a wish for interaction invariably ends in being brutally murdered. But Vanth stated that staff are not allowed to kill players. So, a human is lost somewhere in the tablelands, a lethal environment, and he wishes for some interaction, will you give him a fair chance or will just summon a Blackwing raiding party and make a short work of him? Will he be able to barter for his life? Or do anything at all except die?

Just to clarify here: staff members are not allowed to create plots or animate NPCs for the express purpose of harming a PC (harm could include taking all your sid, as well as killing you, for example).  As Shalooonsh stated, when we bring the world to life in a way intended to warn you that you are, perhaps, disregarding certain dangers or not taking proper precautions, we always give you a chance to change your behavior.  However, if the world's appropriate response is to harm you, then it is our duty to make that happen if you fail to heed a warning.

But yes, we are not allowed to kill players, even if we know where you live. ;)
Nyr: newbs killing newbs
Nyr: hot newb on newb violence
Ath: Mmmmmm, HOT!

JustAnotherGuy

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #23 on: February 11, 2009, 06:20:57 PM »
Thank you for the answer and comments Wyx.  That is something I was hoping could happen more.  The Staff being more interactive and social... doesn't mean you have to give out information, but being friendly and having fun WITH the players can make a huge difference in the way the players view the staff.
Or you might get me.
Quote
A staff member sends:
     "Looks like you introduced him to *puts on sunslits* the school of hard Knoxx.  YEEEEAAAAAAH"

rishenko

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Re: A New Storyteller's Perspective
« Reply #24 on: February 11, 2009, 09:55:37 PM »
I'm sorry to derail Wyx's thread, but this seems like good place to ask the question. Since I joined the game, it's been a running joke on the forums that a wish for interaction invariably ends in being brutally murdered. But Vanth stated that staff are not allowed to kill players. So, a human is lost somewhere in the tablelands, a lethal environment, and he wishes for some interaction, will you give him a fair chance or will just summon a Blackwing raiding party and make a short work of him? Will he be able to barter for his life? Or do anything at all except die?

Just to clarify here: staff members are not allowed to create plots or animate NPCs for the express purpose of harming a PC (harm could include taking all your sid, as well as killing you, for example).  As Shalooonsh stated, when we bring the world to life in a way intended to warn you that you are, perhaps, disregarding certain dangers or not taking proper precautions, we always give you a chance to change your behavior.  However, if the world's appropriate response is to harm you, then it is our duty to make that happen if you fail to heed a warning.

But yes, we are not allowed to kill players, even if we know where you live. ;)

I did something to bring about a situation as described above.  I didn't think, I wasn't thinking, and I took my whiran into a place he should not have been, and ended up doing bad things to an NPC.  Within a minute, other NPCs suddenly attacked, my guy got his ass kicked, and my own mistakes (not the imms') led to his death.  I actually sent in an email to complain.  The situation was explained, and though I grudgingly admitted it at the time, a few months later I realize how stupid I had been.

Moral of the story?  Pay attention to the goddamn warning signs and think before you leap.  The imms don't -want- you to die.