Every player is allowed seven "main characters". Feature characters do not count against this limit. If one of your main characters is killed or otherwise taken out of play on a long-term basis, you may replace them with another character. A character who is retired but not dead cannot be brought back at a later time, but can appear in cameo roles or for occasional scenes. The staff does not Idledest retired characters, as a rule.
Every player is also allowed an unlimited number of "Extras". Extras are minor characters created only for color; they have no RPG sheets and therefore automatically lose any conflict they're in. If you want, you can create just a single Extra and re-name and re-desc them.
Some plots have NPC villains. The staff will periodically recruit players for these NPCs. If you'd like to run a plot and need NPCs, you can do so as well (just talk to the staff first to get their RPG sheets set up and whatnot). NPCs do not count against your character limit, but must be retired off-screen at the end of the plot.
You are required to register all of your characters under a single valid email address.
Don't ask other people who their alts are, either here or on other MUSHes, or reveal people's alts to others. Let people publicize their own alts — or not. See +help altping for a way to reach someone who might be online as an alt, but whose identity you don't know.
If you suspect alt-cheating of any sort, discuss it with Helix. Do not attempt to go vigilante. The overwhelming majority of the time, when someone has suspected inappropriate behavior and/or thought that characters A and B have been both the same player, they have been wrong. (This has been particularly true of Features, whose identities are frequently guessed incorrectly.) Do not try to take matters into your own hands, or go defaming people whose identities you aren't sure of or whose behavior is only a rumor. Let the staff known and it will be dealt with if necessary.
It is your responsibility to keep IC knowledge separate between your alts. Do not "assume" that one alt can "figure out" what another has learned. This is part of your basic responsibility to keep IC and OOC information separate.
We consider alt-crossing — ANY attempt on your part for one alt to help another — to be cheating. The RPG system attempts to prevent direct assistance, but indirect roleplayed assistance, like Alt X putting in a good word for Alt Y, is also cheating.
You should not be so much as mentioning your alts in roleplay. We recognize this is sometimes going to be inevitable, but it is your responsibility to dodge out of situations where this is the case.
We maintain a firm policy of anonymity here, which means that it's difficult for us to investigate claims that so-and-so is cross-alting. Because accusations have been made in the past of alt-crossing, and we had no real way of knowing the truth, this has become code-mediated.
If you mention the name of an alt of yours in an IC command, it will increment a counter attached to your character. (Yes, it is smart enough to disregard when you are using a +tempname, when you're in an OOC area, when you mention a retired character, etc.)
The counter, by itself, does nothing. We hope that by implementing it, people who would otherwise not walk the straight and narrow will decide that their chances of getting caught are too high to take the risk. It will also be used in the investigation of any player-initiated complaints about cross-alt abuse, in the context of the specific characters being accused at that moment in time.
Some players control multiple significant props, either due to having taken on OOC responsibility for an extra prop, or having alts that each control a prop.
If you control or are otherwise in a leadership position for two props, it is cheating to personally cause those two props to help each other out. You have the same responsibility for separation for two props you control as you do for two alts that you control. (Obviously, this is not the case if a single character is in IC command of two clearly aligned props, such as Amber's Army and Amber's Navy, in which cooperation would be expected under the unified command.)
Token Gifting and Other Collusion
Questions have been raised in the past regarding whether or not people with multiple alts are playing fair when it comes to either using multiple alts to enhance a friend's character with tokens, or tit-for-tat token trading between alt groups, whether in scenes or on the flagpole.
We have never turned up evidence that this is a routine problem. In cases where token mechanical impact is significant, there are already alt-collusion measures in place via code. However, we note it here as a matter of policy.
Players who routinely play in tight, incestuous alt circles should remain aware that they should not be colluding between alts, even indirectly via both alts helping out somebody else's character, including via token generation.
The burden of keeping alts separate for token-gifting purposes falls on the token creator, since he's the one who knows who all his characters are; we don't consider recipients to be responsible, due to anonymity, although obviously if you're aware, you shouldn't be taking advantage of that kind of collusion.
These same policies apply to things like training, as well as any other form in which characters can otherwise collude. For instance, if character X trains character Y, character Y should not then be training X's alt in that thing; that would be a direct violation of our alt-helping policy. (If character X trains character Y, and there's an OOC agreement that in return, Y will train X's alt in something else, or Y will offer a token to X's alt, or the like, that is similarly against the spirit of our rules, and questionable behavior, but it's not something that we can readily prevent.)