Play-by-Post: My First Space Tale

I suppose it’s high time I make my first real content post. While I may have started my gaming career in earnest sitting around a dorm table early on a Saturday morning (I know, how not stereotypical!), I quickly found that it wasn’t all tables and dice and laughter. There were other options to meet with people of similar mindsets and have fun building a rich adventure with one another. Cut back to the end of summer, 2004. My roommate and I, avid gamers both, finally settled into our dorm room after the summer break. As we sat in our sweltering room (the AC was broken. In New Orleans. In August.), we began chatting about what we had done that summer and how our year was looking so far.

“Have you heard of this site before? Called Vagrant Space?”

I had not. Come to find out, it was a marvelous site, built by an associate of my roommate, dedicated to RPG-style gaming through narrative story telling on a message board. I was interested, but a bit confused. How can things like combat work without dice?! What about XP? But, being a good roommate, away and went and up I signed. Before long, I was thrust deep into an enchanting world of spaceships and lasers and mystic-technobabble. I was hooked.

For those that don’t know about Play-By-Post gaming, here was the rough idea :

A storyteller (GM, DM, game master, whatever you want to call them) would start up a single thread for a story. Your profile on the website was your character. It contained all things pertinent: your skills, your race, your background, your possessions, everything. If you were interested, you would drop into the story, posting in character what you were doing and how you were interacting. The storyteller would interject as needed to create tension, resolve combat disputes, set scenes. Really everything a DM would do at their table through words and body language, the storyteller had to accomplish through text alone. Sure, we had some rich text support (bold and italics I think were the only supported modifications to text), but other than that, the world unfolded only in our heads and through our text entries. You would write out everything, going only so far as to taking your own action. Then, the storyteller would take your inputs, along with all the inputs from all the other players in the scene, and would weave them together into whatever tapestry they saw fit. Combat mechanics were usually settled by a description of actions taken and then looking at your relative skill levels. So if you had Pistols at a 12, and you were shooting at someone that had Duck and Cover at a 3, chances are you hit them. But if you tried to describe it that you were diving out of a window, rolling across the broken glass on the pavement, drawing your gun as you go and shooting at the back of someone 200 feet from you. Well, you might just not pull that off. Storyteller’s discretion.

I spent probably 18 months, off and on, posting to Vagrant Space. I got a wild hair a few months ago, when I started back up in the Play-by_Post world, and went searching for the site to see where it was, if it still existed. Sadly, it seems to have closed, several years ago. I miss the days of haranguing about space with friends from afar. Thankfully, I’ve managed to find some new awesome sites that support this kind of gaming. Hooray for technology.


Everyone, roll perception!

– Dramasailor


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