Partially Recovered: Stellar Region

This is probably of limited interest to most readers, aside from tabletop RPG fans.

(Basically, I recovered (from the Wayback Machine) a snapshot from a time one and a half decades ago, when I was running an online turn-based tabletop roleplaying game–sort of–by email, without all the amazing resources available to RPG enthusiasts today.)

A little poking around on the Wayback Machine yielded almost all of the material from the home site for Stellar Region, a PBeM (Play By e-Mail: even the acronym is dated!) RPG game I co-ran with my friend Kat Feete, back in Montréal. (That is, back before I first moved to Korea… I think, just before, actually.) But the format in which it’s presented in its original form is… well, ugly.

So I went ahead and built a blog in a subdomain here to house the material in a slightly-less-ugly form. (Tweaks on the template to come, maybe.)

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 5.44.43 PM
Click to visit.

I may even have the archives of the PBeM turns, somewhere in my yet-to-be-recovered email archives, but only time will tell when it comes to those. If I do recover them, or Kat finds them someplace, I’ll post the email turn content as posts so the whole thing is archived… well, all except for the starchart Kat did up, and which the WayBack Machine didn’t archive–it wasn’t collecting large image files back in the days when Stellar Regions was still online in its original form.

Stellar Region was a lot of work. I don’t remember how many players we had, but it was enough that they got split into two groups, and each player’s actions had to be combined into a single turn each week. In order to avoid the lagginess of turn-based playing, we basically asked players to explain what they were trying to do, and how, and sometimes getting clarifications from individual players along the way. The weekly email turns were basically like short stories that explained what actually happened when the characters attempted whatever they were trying to do.

Even so, progress was slow. If I ever do dig up the turns, my impression may prove mistaken, but I feel like we ran the story for a year, and it progressed through about five major scenes (a couple of “acts” in terms an act structure) in total. Things might have progressed faster if we’d had the resources online tabletop RPGers have today… but we probably wouldn’t have wanted able to play that way anyway: half the attraction (for me at least) was that this was a hybrid of tabletop RPG and collaborative fiction-writing.

Anyway, some of the setting material looks cheesy to me now, but it was fascinating stuff to play with in a game setting, and I learned a lot about how contradictory character motivations can muck up a scene, or amplify the difficulty of overcoming an antagonist, and so on.

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