In the finest tradition of OtherSpace events of the past, the weekend “Even Stones Yield” activity didn’t come with much of a script attached.
What was set in stone for the asteroid-threatens-to-blow-up-world caper:
- A grid of several rooms to represent the asteroid for players to land on and explore. I built only what was needed to tell the fundamental story, but it could be expanded upon and changed should it become part of the permanent game grid.
- Players would discover that the rock wasn’t just a natural chunk of rock. Instead, it contained some architecture and machinery.
- Players would discover that a colony of Lotorians lived deep inside and this chunk of rock was believed to be the last piece of the lost ancient homeworld of their race.
Everything else just evolved organically, often on a whim or thanks to inspiration from the players involved in the adventure.
One such moment provided an opportunity for the event’s only point of random chaos involving dice rolls. After the adventurers reached the bottom of the damaged elevator shaft, Lucy included a phrase in her pose about how something was “way over her head.” In my mind, this led to a cinematic camera tracking shot up the shaft to a wobbly boulder about to break loose and fall. I used the MUSH random number generator command to pick a number from 0-49. I got 21. Blackjack! I informed the players that I would roll for each of them. Should anyone get exactly 21 for their roll, they would be hit by the boulder.
Everyone avoided the boulder’s impact except for Dean. Luckily, he’s a Phyrrian, so the boulder didn’t kill him – it just severely damaged him. As the guy who got hit by the rock, Dean had the chance to be the hero, using his pose to help shove his comrades out of harm’s way so that he could take the blow instead.
Aside from this, we didn’t use dice at all. Everything else was character and plot.
I knew going into the event that I’d need to play up the contentious and utterly irrational nature of the conflict between the Opodians and Llivori on Kamsho, but I couldn’t entirely predict how the players would deal with their brinksmanship. I certainly didn’t expect that it would lead to some dramatic in-character conflicts between captain and crew, but it did.
At one point, the Llivori and Opodian governments had both launched their entire nuclear arsenals at the oncoming asteroid while Garviel’s crew waited for the Lotorians repair the rift drive inside the big rock. Frustrated with the madness unfolding before her, Lucy broke regulations by communicating with the authorities on Kamsho, trying to convince them to disarm the nukes. Garviel silenced Lucy by blasting her in the back of the head with a stun pistol. No doubt, this’ll have some impact on crew morale!
The event revealed the following twists:
- The asteroid was occupied.
- The occupants were Lotorians.
- The asteroid was all that remained of the ancient world of Lotor.
- The Lotorian colonists had captured the deposed Zar, Hideg Fekretu, near Rigor Strand.
- The ex-Zar paid for his continued survival by equipping the asteroid with a rift drive.
- A Medlidikke pirate arrived to take Fekretu and collect on a bounty. The Lotorians thought maybe they should be the ones to profit from such a bounty, so they activated the rift drive without really knowing what they were doing. This led to the asteroid popping into existence again close to Kamsho. It also caused a structural collapse that killed both Fekretu and the pirate.
The players discovered the Zar’s body early on the second day of the event, as they cleared rubble from in front of the elevator shaft. This was another of those moments that just sort of snuck up on me. I had expected them to find dead bodies, and originally they were going to be Lotorians, but I decided on the spot that I didn’t want to reveal that part until later.
So what would I reveal instead? Well, the Zar’s always been a threat hanging out there, but I’d never really gotten attached to him as a character. He really has to be the most one-dimensional bad guy I’ve ever introduced. The only purpose he ever really served was to create a fleet that would become a force to be reckoned with in the universe, our answer to Emperor Palpatine, but he never really got traction as a workable character for me. So, he ended up in the rubble. When last we left him, Fekretu was being hunted by the Medlidikke, and thus I determined that he’d have a companion going with him to the afterlife.
We had a few points with pacing issues during the event, but not many. Sometimes people would lose track of pose order, but other times it was my fault for letting the action go too slack for a while. This was more of an issue on the second day. The first night went incredibly well, from my perspective.
The final hurdle we ran into was sharing the spotlight. Garviel, a character player by an admin, was in command of the action after Dean was struck by the boulder in the elevator shaft. We don’t really like to have admin-played characters “hogging” all the fun. So, I improvised an NPC who came up with a plan that would give Lucy and Newt something important to do – something that would save the day – while Garviel stuck to coordinating his troops.
The initial feedback from the event was good, and we struck the notes that I wanted to strike. Players who didn’t hate the denizens of Kamsho before sure hate them now, and anyone who hated them before will absolutely loathe them now. The Lotorians now have an Ungstir-like homeworld floating around out there in the galaxy somewhere. The ex-Zar is dead. And the epic storyline has returned to OtherSpace.
I want to thank everyone who participated. It’s always important for an event coordinator to remember that without the players, your big idea for a grand adventure won’t be anything more than that. It requires collaboration, creativity, trust, and a good sense of humor and fair play to make it work. Garviel, Dean, Lucy, Newt, Umishi, Hess, Amanda, and Franceza definitely made this a worthwhile experience for me.
Can’t wait for next month!
On Friday evening, Jan. 21, I’ll be kicking off a weekend-long event on OtherSpace that revolves around a planet-killer asteroid putting the world of Kamsho in dire jeopardy.
Players get the opportunity to save the day – or, as some suggest, ensure the asteroid hits! (Some folks find the inhabitants of Kamsho – especially the zealous Opodians – terribly annoying.)
It’s the first major event I’ve run on the MUSH in a long time. “Even Stones Yield” marks the resumption of regular story arc activities. It represents my official return as a regular storyline contributor to the game. I’ve missed it a lot and look forward to the mayhem that awaits.
Going forward, I expect to hold weekend events at least once a month. Stay tuned to our Facebook fan page for updates on scheduled events!
Taking advantage of some new amusements over at Xtranormal.com, I’ve started working on introductory videos for the MUSH. Here’s the first overview video about OtherSpace.
This real-time collaborative storytelling scene took place sometime in 2002 online on Star Wars: Reach of the Empire. I played the roles of C4PU and Dash Rendar:
Infirmary (Imperial Prison Facility: Kessel)
This sterile-looking facility is where prisoners who are injuried in the mines receive medical treatment. Rows of beds extend outward from the walls, and several medical droids move about from patient to patient. From the look of things, injuries in the mines are a common occurrence, and new patients, many in very serious condition, are brought in in a nearly constant stream.
From Bacta Tank, Phoenix doesn’t open her eyes and her cuts slowly stop bleeding. The bacta’s still a muddy purple colour from the blood released already though. The teen floats in the tank, hands unbandaged and looking beat up to the extreme.
C4PU walks into the infirmary, arms bowed outward as he approaches one of the worktables.
Elaer tilts his head to the side, looking at the human in the tank curiously. Seems he can’t help but wonder what happened to the young woman to beat her up so badly. The droid finishes wrapping his ribs, pulling the wrapping tight to make sure everything’s held in place, eliciting a yelp of pain from the Duros.
C4PU rearranges the swabs and medical gear on the worktable. Quietly studies the new formation. Makes a “tsk” sound and goes about rearranging them again.
From Bacta Tank, Probably not anything all that much – just shift duty. A braid that’s waist length or longer hangs down, piling up slightly at the bottom of the tank. Ix continues to sleep or whatever it is she’s doing, a small smile crossing her face – whether or not it can be seen from under the rebreather is hard to say, as is the cause of her happiness.
Elaer glances at the protocol droid, examining it with a quiet confidence, an assessing look. It’s the kind of look you’d see from someone well versed in droid matters. He nods politely to the 2-1B droid as it finishes tending to his cuts, scooching back a ways on the bed to sit with his back against the wall and watch the room easily.
C4PU turns and makes his way toward the bacta tank. His optical receptors flicker for a moment, and then he and his reflection turn toward the 2-1B droid. “How much longer do you anticipate this patient will require bacta treatment?”
The medical droid replies, “Her bacta treatment is anticipated to last 24 hours although it may be longer if her hands are not healed by that time.” Ix just..floats and smiles, a stream of bubbles coming from her rebreather.
“Oh, my,” the protocol droid replies, turning his attention back to the prisoner adrift in the bluish-green fluid. “That is most unfortunate. The overseer made it quite clear. He wants her back in the mines this afternoon.”
This real-time collaborative storytelling scene took place in 2003 online on Chiaroscuro. I played the role of Arkady.
The spiraling stone stairs lead from the receiving hall to this cavernous, chill chamber of torch-lit stone shadows. The walls are festooned with the twisted visages of sneering, leering and snarling gargoyles with horns and fangs and wildling claws, gazing down on those who inhabit the residence as if prepared to pounce.
Jamot Seamel, first master of the Brooding Keep, carved the exquisite sculptures from gray marble taken from a quarry in the River District and, in the third year of marriage to Anae Nillu, had his vassals install the sculptures as a ward against the Shadow’s Touch. In the fourth year of their marriage, shortly after Anae celebrated her nineteenth birthday, one of the sculpted gargoyles cracked and fell from its stone perch as she strolled beneath it.
The blunt force of the marble form did considerable damage to her head, but the blow was not instantly fatal. She lingered for six weeks while the healers ministered to her, and while Jamot struggled to keep hope and faith against the misery of realizing that what had been meant to protect his beloved, created by his own hand, had felled her.
A gap exists in the circle of gargoyles – the fallen sculpture never got replaced in this chamber that became known as the Sorrow Vault.
Arkady yells, “Fat Arkady! The Shadow take you, keep your bloody hands off that gargoyle!”
Standing near the top of the stairs, the stout form of Arkady waggles a beefy finger at a particularly obese younger version of himself, who is trying to grab at a gargoyle perched on a pedestal. Other boys, ranging in age from toddler to teen, move among the gargoyles. Some boys are tall. Some are short. Some are skinny. A couple are fat. Some are hairy. Some are hairless. All seem to be just a step away from getting into deep trouble with the older man. “Now, I mean it! Hands off the sculptures! This is why we have nothing nice, lads!”
Chamber doors fling open and out staggers Jafron. Barefoot and with mussy hair, the noble frantically buttons his silken shirt before spotting his new guests. His face is crimson in an instant and he freezes mid-button. An instinct from deep within suggests to the soldier that if he should remain perfectly still, and make not so much as a whimper, he shall go unnoticed.
Arkadia brushes her unbound hair back over her shoulders as she hurriedly steps out of the suite *right* behind Jafron, almost running right into him. She tugs at her clothing and tries to cast a quick, reassuring smile toward the nobleman, but her own face is rosy with heat. There’s a glimmer of mischievous merriment twinkling in the girl’s green eyes, however. “Papa! What are -you- doing here? And with the -boys-!”
There seems to be no trace of merriment in Arkady’s face as he reddens and turns toward the sound of the whooshing doors, the blurted inquiry of the woman. Distracted from critiquing the gargoyle-handling by his sons, Arkady growls, shaking his finger at Arkadia. “We come to take you back, Arkadia.” He narrows his eyes, lowering the finger and glaring at Jafron. “M’lord, I mean no great offense, but she is yours in service to the house – not in service to your base needs. I hear things, down low where we are, and it bodes ill. I come here, and I see it for myself. Have you no fine ladies to bed, that you must soil my only daughter? An abomination, you are, m’lord, I must say it, I cannot keep my tongue. So, me and the little Arkadys come callin’. If you be a man of honor, you’ll release her, free and clear.”
- This real-time collaborative storytelling scene took place online on OtherSpace about 11 years ago. I played the various roles of the “guides” Fulton encountered during his vision quest on the planet Quaquan:
- Vision Cavern
- The centerpiece of this round chamber with its low ceiling and walls carved with stick-figure heiroglyphs is a gurgling blue spring surrounded by a rough ring of yellow stones and lit from below by luminescent moss growing on rocks within the spring. That glow gives this chamber its only illumination. The echo of the water dances off the walls.
A young Qua boy walks into the cave, without a word, bearing a basket of cloth-wrapped dry white bread – a small loaf. He sets the basket on the edge of the spring.
Fulton glances at the boy. “Thank you.”
The boy ponders the offworlder for a moment. He seems about to speak, a question on the tip of his tongue, but he stops himself, turns and walks away.
Fulton watches after the boy, as he leaves, then looks towards the basket.
With a small nod to himself, he turns his gaze towards the spring. Spirits? Nonsense. Thoughts cruise up and down his mind, but he quickly shakes them off, deciding its best to focus on that which needs to be thought upon.
A sweet-smelling mist begins to roll into the cave through vents low on the rock walls.
Fulton sniffs the air, quickly looking around. “What in the-?”
The mist smells like orange blossoms – and it tends to put you at ease. It does not harm you, or render you unconscious. It simply makes you feel…content to be.
Fulton turns his gaze back at the spring. Tilting his head slightly back, he closes his eyes, and feels calmness sweep him over.
You hear the sound of feet padding into the cave through the entrance, and rapid, raspy breathing.
Fulton opens his eyes quite slowly, not at all startled, and glances towards the entrance, looking for the source of the sounds.
Opposite the spring from you stands a wolf with gray fur, strong haunches and bright blue eyes that study you with brilliant intensity. Thanks to the effects of the mist, it doesn’t seem to surprise you at all, really, when the creature speaks: “You seek the wisdom of the guides?”
“I do.” Fulton replied simply, staring at the wolf.
The wolf’s tongue lolls out, a look that might almost be mistaken as mirth on its face. “What is your question?”
This real-time collaborative storytelling scene took place on OtherSpace back in 1999. I played the role of Rathorl, a reptiloid Nall competing against a rival for a mate:
Sun Goddess Square – Nalhom
Before you stands the very edges of a tropical jungle, amidst it a large, carved stone structure grants you entrance into the heart of this planet. During the daytime the sun’s warmth hits the very center of this lush courtyard and during the night the clear cool light of the planets three moons converge on this spot to form a spectacular light show. To the left and right of the carved structure lie huge buildings carved out of the same stone but much more ornate in their construction. One structure lies open allowing the suns rays to filter in during the day while the more ornate building is decorated with large bronze statues of a female lizard holding the sun above her head while Ydahri and other slaves look up in awe. Off to the left the ground flattens and appears cultivated.
Betoth moves, with a clacking of claws and a harsh, constant hissing, from the tunnel of the tube station. He is as he always is– Betoth, in his armor, bearing his weapons. Though his armor has obviously been polished, he has made no other concessions to the event.
Kh’rrtyris rustles into the Square, some ways behind Betoth. Upon seeing Rhas’eas, she hisses, nostrils flaring slightly, and bobs her head in deference to her mother. “Mother. Nalia shine upon you and grant you favor.” Her tail begins a slow, swishing movement from side to side, jaws opening a fraction as her tongue darts out to scent the air.
From her perch near the bronze feet of Nalia, Rhas’eas is resplendent in her finery, obviously donned especially for the occasion. As Betoth enters, she merely inclines her head. At Kh’rrtyris greeting, she raises her palm, “And may she shine on you, my youngling”
R’ikamvril tastes the air with a flick of her dark tongue, obviously eager for the battle to begin. She stands off to the side, but her eyes are keen and alert.
Betoth extends his palm to Rhas’eas, inclining his head. His hand then drops to his swordhilt. He draws it, the metal rasping out. He narrows his eyes, the wrinkles making his scarred flesh jut out ridgily along his cheeks. “I am prepared.”
Rhas’eas drops her eyes to examine the steel of his blade. Her mouth opens slightly with wry amusement. “I see you took my advice. Your sword is newly sharp, is it not?”
What I’m Reading
Blackout by Connie Willis
What I’m Playing
Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War II
You Don't Know Jack
World of Warcraft
Left 4 Dead 2
What I’m Writing
No Son of Hekayt - Book I: Artifacts
Free to download in PDF format!
Coming soon: 31 Days of OtherSpace - 1 work of fiction a day during March 2011.