by Nick Kinzett
(1) The Diplomacy rulebook (1971 etc) applies except (a) that this game will always require an independent arbiter (in a postal version, the Games Master / Referee); and (b) as modified below……
(2) Every Spring season, each player may submit a RULE-CHANGE PROPOSAL. This is done through the arbiter, thus concealing authorship, and is subject to the following:
(a) Such proposals may not be made conditional on the outcome of the current season’s orders, nor vice versa. In effect, they are submitted along with the orders, but only revealed by the arbiter once all retreats have been executed.
(b) Proposals should not exceed fifty words in length, although the arbiter may occasionally pass a longer suggestion which takes his/her fancy. The arbiter may also edit a proposal for the sake of clarity or consistency.
(c) Proposals should aim to modify or add to game-mechanisms. In theory, this can mean anything at all, but the arbiter may veto anything he/she considers impossible extraneous, e.g. an obligation to recite poetry whilst submitting orders.
(d) Proposals must be theoretically applicable to all players, except in respect of introducing an additional player to the game. That is, one may not be unduly player-specific, such as excluding victory to a given party.
(e) Changes to the victory conditions may be proposed, but must still conform to the basic Diplomacy precepts: that is, that the winner must be singular and that a game which concludes without a winner being determined is held to be a draw.
(f) Proposals may not change the basic rules for this variant, as listed hereunder paragraphs 1-5. Nor may they alter those houserules which govern postal adaptation, for the obvious reason that these are for the convenience of the arbiter.
(3) Every Autumn season, players conduct a secret ballot (through the arbiter) on each outstanding proposal. Each player has votes equal to the number of supply centres he/she holds at the end of that season (or, if the game has changed to allow survival without supply centres, one vote to such survivors).
(a) Votes may be made conditional on the outcome of the current season (though not, obviously, on the outcome of any of the current votes).
(b) To pass a proposal requires more than half of the ‘definite’ votes (meaning those cast For and Against: abstentions are ignored).
(c) Once votes for every outstanding proposal have been assessed, the arbiter will announce which proposals have been passed or rejected, without reference to the number of votes which secured each decision (or, of course, to who cast what).
(d) Those proposals which are passed become Rules of the Game until further modified or rescinded. The arbiter will arrange some identification for such rules for the purposes of ready reference.
(4) In the event that two or more rules (new or old) are discovered to be mutually exclusive in their effects, the arbiter is empowered to modify them in any way he/she sees fit to remove the contradiction. Depending upon their temper, integrity and claim to logic, an arbiter will listen to reason, but I suppose we’d better trot out the old saw that in the event of disputes the arbiter’s decision is final.
(5) OPTIONAL RULE. Instead of starting the game with 1901, there is a preliminary game-year (1900) in which no orders are executed, just Spring proposals and Autumn votes. The number of votes available to each player is based on their initial centres.
Reprinted from Zeeby No.65 (Sept. 1987)