The Rannestad Convention

(What It Is And What It's All About)

Tim Miller

By now if you have played a few games of Diplomacy over the Internet judges, you have most likely seen the havoc and annoyances that abandonments can bring to the game. Open positions, particularly in non-English language games and variants, can sometimes take weeks to fill. And replacement players, who do the hobby a great service by taking over abandoned positions, force players to start negotiations back at square one. Abandonments and replacements can often drastically change the course of a game. Many players who stick to their positions, regardless of whether they are winning or losing, wonder why the same seven people who start a game cannot be the same seven who finish it. Indeed, I have seen a game where only one of the seven original players was left at the end.

If you are one of these dedicated people, fear not, for there are others like you who care about having a positive experience playing Diplomacy, unburdened from the headaches caused by abandonment. There is The Vermont Group, an exclusive club of player's who have a low abandonment rate on Doug Massey's Diplomacy Resignation Record. Vermont Group games run virtually abandonment free.

But what about the new player or somebody who has a bad record but has reformed their abandoning ways? The Vermont Group (of which I am a proud member and which I have no desire to criticize or bash) is closed to these people. So where can a relatively new or recently reformed player find a game that emphasizes responsibility and good sportsmanship? The answer is for that player to look for a Rannestad Convention game. In fact, emphasizing courtesy and sportsmanship is what the Rannestad Convention (or the RC, as we refer to it) is all about.

So by now, perhaps you are curious about what exactly the RC is and how exactly it works. The Rannestad Convention simply states that players must not abandon positions without a valid real-life reason. In addition, when such a resignation must occur, the player involved must tell the game's Masster as far in advance as possible so that a replacement may be found. Any player who does not comply with this and abandons with nary a word to the GM before or after the fact may be "blacklisted," that is, barred from playing in future RC games.

These rules are not that hard to comply with. We GM's who run games under the RC do not view ourselves as being strict or overbearing. We simply want to give players a decent experience playing Diplomacy, which to us means a minimum of abandonments and replacements. Nonetheless, we realize that Diplomacy is just a game and that no player is perfect. One poster on went so far as to suggest that we "blacklist people for missing deadlines." There is a wide amount of disagreement about what to do about unreliable players. The RC does not blacklist people for being late a few times, but for going abandoned without notification. RC players and GM's are all human, and we realize that humans occasionally get overworked and miss deadlines. We even realize that sometimes people need to resign from games; we just ask that they do so responsibly and with as little disruption to the game as possible.

As I have alluded, the RC is made up primarily of a group of GM's who run at least some of their games under the RC rules. The individual GM of an RC game decides whether or not a player has violated the RC rules and is blacklisted. However, there are very strict criteria a GM must follow in determining whether someone should be blacklisted. A GM can only blacklist people who have abandoned the game without giving a reasonably good reason. There is no central governing board, only someone who maintains the blacklist. The RC has its own mailing list (RC Chat), to which all the RC GM's subscribe. We discuss the RC in particular and GM'ing in general on the list, and the blacklist is published on that list. Anyone interested can subscribe to RC Chat by sending a message to with the words “subscribe rcchat” (without the quote marks) in the main body of the message. Messages themselves are mailed to

So, if you are looking for a judge game that encourages common sense, courtesy, and sportsmanship, check out a Rannestad Convention game. We'll be happy to have you; provided, of course, that you don't abandon without a good reason.

Tim Miller

If you wish to e-mail feedback on this article to the author, click on the letter above. If that does not work, feel free to use the "Dear DP..." mail interface.