Thursday, August 17, 2006

The New Black: Roleplaying over internet

You get old, you get ideas, you get a job, you find new people you want to live with, you start hating your state, you get deported or even married.

All theses things are stuff that keep you away from roleplaying as you get older and life become more complex, but still more your own. I moved to Turkey, but can't roleplay in Turkish. Not good. But then: roleplaying over internet? Fullfilling? Feasible?

Two hings made me think of this right now:
  • Per von Fischer writes about an IRC version of Sorcerer on his blog Mørke Steder.
  • I did it myself earlier today.
Trials and tribulations of internet roleplaying

Ars Magica we play. Since sometimes last spring we have been playing an Ars Magica campaign through a chat client. We not used a regular client, instead the groups geeky genius and general lightbringer Kristoffer made a quite ambitious client for online Ars Magica play. I won't explain you its workings here, but the main idea is that each player has an own channel of text. The text in these channels is removed rather quickly, while the more important stuff is cut by the GM and copied into the ongoing story text flow. At first I didn't think I would enjoy this way of play, but it turned out to work fine. Hey, I'm not the genius, we havee other people for that. In addition the client has support for keeping and editing character sheets and several other things.

But there are problems. As one commenter noted on Pers game, mentioned above, the game often gets slow and even if the play is interesting it's easy to loos ones concentration. At least for me. Especially slowness as been evident almost all the time during this campaign. (The fact that one of us decided to start a polical career and paint his face all over his city instead of playing is of course also a problem).

As I wrote about in the ancient past my interest in nowadays in roleplaying is towards freeform and non-fantasy larp and after a personal doctoring thread at Ben Lehmans old blog (as opposed to his new) I was given the simulationist diagnosis. But I do feel that this way of play really fit much better with a Story Now goals. My insight into Story Now and narrativism is very limited, but I would definitely say that way are geared towards that kind of thinking by the channel of communication itself.

There is more to it than I will go into now. But one thing is the text itself, which makes it easier to detach from the characters to conentrate on creating story. Also, you have more limited time (play is slow) and since you lack the possibility of playing out scenes it just makes sense to spend energy on the bare bones of the story and discuss it in advance with other players.

Orpheus we play. Since several years we have an ongoing Orpheus campaign (you know that White Wolf game in a limited series of six books). During the last two years we have been spread out over an impressively large area. We are now discussing play over internet. Today me and Anna went ahead of the other players (and the GM!) and played out a couple of scenes over Skype.

I would call this Phone larp. Since it is. Before play we made up the external setting of two phonecalls that would be separated by one week and also noted some things about what we might talk about and which secrets we would tell the other (without telling the actual content of the secret). Then we played out the calls, wholeheartedly ingame of course. Between calls we had a short discussion.

The plot is as follows: my character suddenly disappeared from his girlfriend (Annas character) and after three days he finally calls her (first call). He gives a very bad explanation (a part of it being, "Do you remember this girl I have told you about? I met her again and we went to Seattle.") and then doesn't call again. A week later (second call) she has just almost, almost got killed, the world actually seems to be collapsing and she and everyone she knows are hiding from tens of thousands of entities in the streets of New York wanting to kill them more than almost anything else. Also, she just realized she is pregnant. And my character hasn't been adopted by her native American tribe yet. The horror.

So now their worst problem is how to get him adopted. Human psyches are funny things. Especially when they are not your own.

I would love other people experiences about all types of distant roleplaying.


Anonymous Anna said...

Well, Sven, I too really enjoyed our phonelarping, even thou I found it a little hard to find my character. I'm really looking forward to have a rollplay baby. For anyone how doesn't know about our characters I must tell you that they are not exactly good parent material, they are acully unusual bad persons. It's going to be bad for them, and their group.

But since I my theory is "bad for my roleplaying character = fun for me" I think this is good.

9:48 am  

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