Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Quick Note - Before the Internet ...

As I've said in a few challenge posts that I have made in the past, I did not actually start roleplaying or having an understanding of roleplaying until I was in my twenties (22 to be exact!). That being said I missed the whole play-by-mail thing by a mile. By the time gaming entered my life Yahoo Groups and various web forums were around. I was big into the ruleless Yahoo Group scene playing in multiple games at once. I found them to be an expression in improv. writing and wit ...two things I really needed help in so I could grow as a writer.

Now, that doesn't mean I wasn't involved in any kind of pbm games. While I didn't know it at the time I was really into a Lord of the Rings pbm that was going in the mid 90s. It wasn't a small personal thing like tabletop games were but a huge war game with hundreds of players. I don't know how I managed it but I ended up in control of a small force of Dunedain Rangers that I typically coordinated with two other players.We three were a small group and rarely did we control any huge parsal of land or make and break kingdoms but I feel that we really made an impact on that world.

Actually my first Yahoo Groups game was a play by post (pbp) game in which the players each created a nation (originally a tribe) and were taken through various ages and such. It was quite interesting and in the end, when the Elder Thing in the center of the world awoke most of th enations allied to combat it. It was quite fun in the end to actually play both general and soldier on multiple front lines.

So why am I bringing all this up? Two days ago a Pay-What-you-Want title was released on RPGnow called Callisto. According to the publisher's page Callisto is:
a play-by-mail game based on the olden days back when we played by actual mail. Yes we actually sent pieces of paper with writing on them (hand writing, almost always) through the post with our orders on them and some poor sod collated them and sent back responses.
Now we have tools that simplify this greatly and it’s time to leverage them to do what couldn’t be easily done before: have a lot of fun with the least possible effort on the part of the referee. And so, Callisto.
In Callisto some large number of players will control the actions of persons of note in a mythical place. They will be barons, kings, admirals, mercenary captains, tinkerers, philosophers, outlaws — the possibilities are endless but the running theme is that they will be important. The rules of Callisto will guarantee that they are important.
I picked up a copy of the game, I was intrigued by the idea of the "tools that simplify" play by mail games ... also tinkerers!

Callisto is 19 pages long and gives a broad foundation for a type of free-form roleplaying, It is up to the individuals who who pick up the book to form, promote and plan their own games. There is a sample setting, but it is rather sparse (if you take my meaning). I will need to do another read over but the "system" as such as there is in a freeform game is mostly common sense rules and some guidelines and pointers for potential referees.

I am not sad that I picked this up, I wish there was some support for it (a website with a list of ongoing games) as getting this kind of thing off the ground is rather hard. It is also not a true play by mail game as it is very much upfront with the idea of using e-mail.I cannot say to not take a look, especially given that it is a Pay-What-You-Want title, but I'm not sure e-mail/forum based free form roleplaying games need a rulebook.

Now that all of that is out of the way! I was hoping for a pre-existing game that I can go all "Wolf and Spice" on! A traveling merchant affecting the economies of the world through trade and back room deals with other players ... including some iron monger stuff. I would name hime Misfort'n!

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