Spending my anniversary playing Red Dead Redemption with the mister. I will probably trade out for some action movies later, something with explosions, once we’re ready for a break. This is our idea of a date night.
It’s okay to be jealous.
I am once again helping Cory with his project for the quarter, and we’re down to the last week and a half until summer break so things will continue to be quiet around here for just a little while more. I’ll make sure to post a bit more frequently over the summer. Artbombs, if nothing else.
Some of you will know what that’s a picture of. A lot of you won’t. That right there is SimpleMU, and it is where I learned to write, to GM, and to imagine.
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time in AOL chatrooms. A lot. This is what happens when you aren’t in school and have minimal adult supervision – you go on the internet and screw around. I spent most of my time in chatrooms for things I was nerdy about at the time, like comic books and Sailor Moon and the X-Files, and I had one constant throughout each of these separate circles of friends. We liked to roleplay.
Eventually, I got sick of AOL’s tiny little chat buffer and went looking for something better. I found MU*s. MU*s are like chatrooms cranked to eleven – I’ve often described them to bewildered listeners as being somewhat like networking a series of chatrooms together, giving each room a unique description of what it looks like and what it contains, and then moving from room to room while you play with other people. They were, in essence, MMOGs before MMOGs were MMOGs.
I say “MU*s” because there are several different kinds of MU*, where the letters that replace the asterik indicate what codebase the server is running. There are MUDs, the grand-daddies of them all; then, derived from there, you have MUCKs, MUSHes, MUSEs, MUXes, MOOs… all kinds of weird, silly-sounding acronyms that tell those in the know a lot about what to expect when they connect to the game. If you just wanted to chat, you’d want a MOO. If you wanted to kill stuff and get phat loot, you were probably looking for a MUD.
I completely bypassed MUDs, not being interested in “go here, kill that” gameplay, and instead discovered MUCKs. They weren’t quite what I was looking for (especially the first one I landed on), but I did find a number of great friends (including one that I’m now married to, so that worked out pretty nice) and some other RP nerds, and together, we played a few other games and even started one of our own. We had a MUSH that played host to an original swords-and-sorcery setting of our own creation, complete with its own rules of magic, and we told stories together with our friends. It was a lot of fun.
This has been my primary hobby for the last decade: telling stories with my friends. Some people do it with local friends over a dining room table with sourcebooks and dice in hand. I do the same thing, just with people all over the world, with the help of the internet.
I have three MUXes on this very laptop right now – one is a personal sandbox, an evolution of that MUSH I mentioned above with its timeline progressed into more of a space opera/cyberpunk period. The second one is a pet project that I would love to finish some day, but it probably requires too much code to be realistic. The third and most recent one, however, I think stands a decent chance of being finished and opened for play, if only because Corwyn and I love the subject matter so, so much.
We’re building a Star Wars MUX set immediately after the events of A New Hope. This period has a ton of cool shit that can be covered in RP – the Rebellion moving to Hoth and building Echo Base, Crix Madine defecting from the Empire, Kyle Katarn is a Badass Motherfucker – and I’m insanely excited about the possibilities. We want to keep it as low on code as we can, if only to increase the chances of it actually getting finished and to encourage a focus on story rather than dice, but we will need to code things like character generation and the like. We’re planning on using the West End Games’ D6 books as the basis for most things, but I want to incorporate a bit of FUDGE to help guard against characters becoming too good at too many things. Having played on a SW MUSH that had characters who had been earning XP and adjusting their character sheets for over fifteen years straight, this safeguard is very important to me.
For player factions, we’ll have two – the Alliance and the Underworld. We’re reserving the Empire for NPC Boogeyman Status, run by GMs and the staff to give our two player factions a common enemy. I figure the Alliance will probably be where the Player Versus Environment people (like myself) end up, since their combat will mostly end up being against the staff and GMs, people who are there to ensure the players look good and have fun. The Underworld, meanwhile, has a ton of room for Player Versus Player conflict. Different crime families butting heads, bounty hunters, smugglers, hitmen… lots of room for PvP without even leaving the faction, plus an obvious avenue for fighting the staff-run Empire: cops versus robbers.
I’m still undecided on the topic of feature characters. I do want people like Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie to show up, because keeping things familiar is important in a setting like this. On the other hand, those characters can too easily steal the limelight from original characters, and that is a load of crap. Whether we have players playing features or only break them out as staff-run NPCs, their character sheets will be just the same as any other player’s – Han, for example, won’t be able to have D8 in something that every other human on the grid can only take to D6. This ensures that the players have just as big an opportunity to affect the Galactic Civil War as Han does. All they have to do is have the nerve to try.
Maybe Wedge and Lando won’t be the ones to destroy the second Death Star. Maybe it’ll be you.
Certain FCs will be staff-run, though, without question. Yoda, Mon Mothma, Crix Madine, Admiral Ackbar. Darth Vader as well, for what I should hope would be very obvious reasons. Cory can take him for walks when players act too irresponsibly and need to be smacked down. If I have a pet FC for “scare the shit out of people” purposes, it’ll probably be Mara Jade, back when she was an Emperor’s Hand. I’ll have to re-read Zahn’s Allegiance to brush up on how she behaved during that period.
We’ll probably make up for the limited FC play by allowing for a certain amount of force sensitivity. Nothing trained, mind – but maybe certain smugglers are a little better at knowing when they’re being tailed, and certain A-Wing pilots have seemingly inhumanly fast reflexes. Who knows, maybe the game will end up developing a storyarc where Luke and Yoda decide to start training the next generation of Jedi and start the new Jedi academy before the war is over. We’ll have to see how the RP goes…
…but first, we have to finish the place.
I got Bespin all built last night, carbon freeze chamber and all, and just need to run through and add descriptions to all of the rooms and exits. That’s how I’m spending this coming week: watching Empire and writing descs.
I can think of worse ways to spend my time.