Thursday, September 4, 2008

Another forum game

I've written a couple of short articles about role-playing games on web forums. (Including one game I ran myself for a few weeks.)

The context of those posts was Myst fandom. But my original inspiration was a Harry Potter fanfic RPG called Nocturne Alley.

I don't know how the thing got started; it only hit my attention at its end, in mid-2004. That was the culmination of a two-year arc of Livejournal posts. A group of people took the roles of characters from the HP books -- one each, and their real identities were not public. And the characters started keeping public journals. And commenting in each others' journals. And stuff happened.

The game started in Hogwarts Year Five, I believe. (The fifth book was not yet out at that point, so they were working in as-yet-unmapped territory.) Naturally, being fanfic, it diverged rapidly from Rowling's plan. (Sirius and Remus wound up married. That sort of thing. Fanfic.)

It was a long-running, collaborative performance which contained a wealth of detail and characterization. More detail, in fact, than anyone can possibly assimilate. There's no way you can read Nocturne Alley. I've linked to the LJ community page, and there's an indirect index too, but you'd spend weeks re-reading everything. This is an art form which, in an odd way and despite being online, exists only in real time.

(A single link I found interesting: questions answered by an organizer, afterwards.)

So why am I mentioning this now? Because Alternity has just started. This is a new Harry Potter game, and it starts from the beginning -- September 1, Harry's first day at school. Only not as in The Philosopher's Stone. In this scenario, Voldemort, er, won. As Lord Protector Marvolo, he controls England... and he's just sent his eleven-year-old adopted son Harry Marvolo to Hogwarts.

The conceits of the game:
  • It's in real time. Today is September 4th, 1991, game time. The first-years are in their fourth day at school. Christmas is Christmas, summer break is summer break, and -- at least in plan -- Alternity will run for seven real years.
  • Journal posts are journal posts. The game consists of what people say in their (public) journals. There are no transcripts of what is "really" happening, unless a character chooses to write about it.
  • Journals are public. (Voldemort's Ministry of Magic wants to encourage discussion that they can eavesdrop on.)
  • One exception: the good-guy conspiracy has managed to set up a private conference. (Posts marked "Order Only" are presumed visible only to Order of the Phoenix members.) It is implied that the bad guys can do something similar. Naturally, first-year students are not trusted with such secrets, no matter how well-raised they are.

Some announcements and public discussion appears on the community page, but most of the action will be on the friends page. Follow if you dare.

(Well, that's easy to say. I don't know how much I'll be following myself. My daily net-reading habits are not set up to just add a stream of livejournal. I try to avoid passive reading; if I don't take action to go look, I don't see it. And seven years is a long time. But I'm interested in how these things run.)

Comments imported from Gameshelf

mark musante (Sep 4, 2008 at 10:11 AM):

1991 for 2008? They're gonna run into problems next year when Feb 29th gets in the way...

Andrew Plotkin (Sep 17, 2008 at 2:26 PM):

And in today's followup to discussions that have been forgotten...

They're using the 2008 lunar calendar, too.

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