This used to be the typical welcome a person new to GemStone III received. With the sweeping changes in the lands and the addition of hundreds of new players from America Online, there is a new subculture that is developing among the younger player (younger here meaning lower level). These folks who have never had the benefit of the guidance of a more experienced player. I've only been playing GSIII since September of 1994, but in that time I think I've more or less learned what I need to know about getting along in the game. So, I decided to write this in the hopes that new players will have some insight into several important topics that will affect how more experienced players will view them and interact with them.
The GemStone III community is just that: a community. In fact it is a community that has been around for many years. Many of the players have been around since before GS III was GS III, in fact. There are folks here that have developed real-world friendships and more as the result of meeting people online and interacting with them for hours on end. GS III can truly be a special place. But with recent changes, there are things which are destroying the sense of community that once existed in Elanthia. Older players that do not have younger characters may not see it yet, but the day is coming when they will.
So this document is intended to help out the new players and, in some ways, to let the older players know what life is like at the bottom these days. Comments, questions, complaints, and flames are, of course, welcome.
My name is Tim Melton, though if you got here via the links on either my personal home page or the link on TAM Consulting's Web page you probably already know that. I got involved in online gaming in a fairly innocuous way: I bought Air Warrior. I've been an avid flight sim lover for years, always getting the latest and greatest sim the moment it hit the shelves. I got Air Warrior around New Years, 1992/93. The moment I realized that I could actually fly against folks from the world over and even crew up a B17 with other folks and go blasting the enemy to tiny bits, I was hooked. That's when I first logged on to GEnie.
After meeting lots of great folks and getting a mere taste of what a multi-player online game could be, my now ex-wife started complaining that I was spending too much time online. Then one day I noticed a beta for the front-end to GemStone III on a Usenet newsgroup. My ex-wife had always loved RPG's and I'd mentioned GS III to her, even though I had no idea what it was like. I grabbed the FE and showed her how to use it (hehe... well I taught her how to start it up and dial in, anyway ;-) ). Before long she was hooked. In fact, she was spending more time online than I. In a desperate effort to win back some of the time I'd had with her before we discovered the world online, I started playing GS III. I was quickly hooked. The people were helpful and friendly and I soon realized that I'd developed a group of friends of my own, independent of my ex-wife's. A couple were even good friends from AW. Needless to say, I was hooked.
Now I have 2 accounts on GEnie and Nora has something like four or five or six or.... ;-) My oldest character in GS III is Mordring Ungeheuerjaeger, an Elven ranger. My other character, and the one you are more likely to see, is Felias Catskin, a Giantman Sorcerer. Read the last name the way you like. (it was originally designed to read: Cat's-kin, but it works the other way as well ;-).
The time I spend online these days is a function of my free time and my frustration level with the system speed of the game. In fact, I'd almost rather devote my time to helping the game offline, like this, than playing all the time ;-). So, now that you know who I am in relation to GS III, lets get down to the business at hand: getting along in Elanthia.
First we'll talk briefly about experience. That's the nasty stuff you have to acquire to advance in levels, or, in other words, the stuff you have to get to train more.
If you are fairly young (low level... 3rd or less) you're best way to get experience is to run messages. You can get a job at Moot Hall to deliver a message somewhere in town. It may not be exciting, but you can get fried (fill your mind with experience) quickly, you get paid, and you learn the layout of the town quickly. If you choose to hunt, on the other hand, you will almost definitely encounter the problems that we'll be discussing later. As for other characters, the only cue you have as to their level is the title Lord/Lady preceeding their name. If someone is under 20th level, they have no title. Folks 20th level and above get the title Lord/Lady prepended to their name. Characters over 50th level are referred to as Legends, even though their title is still merely Lord or Lady. So, that Lord or Lady you may be talking to could be anywhere from 20th to 80th+ level. Some Legends of note include Kaikeyi, Marc, Thalior, Strom, Metaboculous, Oghier, Dartaghan, Kodos, Jesh, and Kali. If I left some out, yell at me and I'll be happy to add them. This also means that if you are in the catacombs hunting rats, that person that walks in and tries to give you friendly advice might be 19th level. If you kick, punch, or otherwise irritate such a character, they might well do nasty things to you. Most folks are quite restrained about swatting newbies in my opinion, but you never know until you try.
It is almost a necessity to have friends as you advance in levels and making enemies is never a good idea. Also, many of the older players have multiple characters, so that young fighter you may be irritating or picking on might have another, much older, character, that, even though it might be taking things out of character (OOC), might remember you later. Finally, older players talk amongst themselves. If you piss one of them off, it's likely that your reputation will precede you. Imagine life without healers, for instance. It happened to Lord Harcourt (albiet in a nice roleplaying situation, but it CAN happen nonetheless). At the very least, it will make getting protective spells more difficult. If you are roleplaying an obnoxious, self-centered twit then that's fine. But expect folks to respond in kind. It's often difficult to determine who's just an ignorant, irritating twit and who is just RP'ing one.
Apparently this is unknown amongst the younger generation of players. Well, that's not quite true. They have developed an hunting etiquette of their own: you kill it, it's yours. This can make hunting with these folks a bit irritating to those who were raised on the traditional rules of the hunt. In fact, if newer players are not properly educated imagine the fun we'll have when they start hunting with the older crowd. This is already starting to happen.
Wanton's daughter, while helping new folks in the catacombs, had a newer player not only tell her she was wrong when she tried to explain proper hunting etiquette, but also had him slap her. Maybe he didn't realize that she actually knew proper hunting etiquette while he was the one in error, but slapping her for simply disagreeing with him was wholly uncalled for. That type of behavior is just plain rude. Treat folks nicely, and they'll do the same to you.
There is a culture building among the newer players: dog eat dog. Those newer players that don't care for this culture are powerless to stop it. The only solution to this problem is for older players to mentor the newer folks and help them get along. There will still be troublemakers, but the older folks should, after repeated warnings, be prepared to handle that situation. In any case, I digress. Here are the rules of traditional hunting etiquette. Please feel free to e-mail me if I've missed something.
Yes, there is such a thing as sex online in GemStone III, if you hadn't already found out. In fact, there is sex in the form of stories, pictures, and even motion pictures available on the Internet. Hell, I've heard of CU-seeme being used to transmit real-time amateur pornography over the 'net. So what? These days, activities on the Internet reflect the interests and morés of society in general. Well, a certain subset of society in general, to be strictly honest. Pornography exists in the offline world as much as the online world, it is merely more indexable online. The current attitude towards sex and pornography on the 'net is simply a poorly considered and ill thought out attempt by certain powers to control information. Instead of having to walk to the corner store, or drive to the next county or state to get a sample of forbidden art or text, you can now often find it online, even if it's only available in a foreign country. Our new online society, or cybersociety, has many other, similar, issues that need to be addressed in a sane manner.
I feel a brief comment on minors is due at this point. If you are a minor (whatever that may mean in your city/state/country) please don't represent yourself as an adult. There is no way for an adult to distinguish between a minor and an adult online. We'd hope that parents would properly police the actions of their kids, but we all realize that that will not happen globally. On the other hand, if you are a pedophile (again, the definition of a pedophile varying from region to region) don't expect much in the way of leniency if you are trying, specifically, to seduce minors. If they claim they are minors, assume they are. If they claim they are adults, hope they are. On the other hand, if they claim they are miners, it's up to you ;-).
Well, now we get down to the issues involved with sex on GS III. First off, GS III was, at least originally, intended as a family-oriented game. By this I mean that the GameMasters (GMs) did not allow much in the way of obscenity in the game. The one seeming exception to this was events taking place behind closed doors which was not intended for or, in general, accessible by, the general public. These days, however, I've heard rumors of gang-bangs in the catacombs that have escaped the scrutiny of the GMs. This type of activity has no place in public in GS III. If you want to enact this type of scene for you and a hundred or so of your closest friends, please find someplace quiet and secluded to do it. Do not do it in a public hunting area.
And now we get into the implications of sex on GemStone III itself. One issue that is of special concern is whether cybersex is in character (IC) or out of character (OOC). I've personally seen at least two marriages end in divorce due to online affairs that went OOC. So, all I can tell you is to consider the feelings of everyone involved if you want to play with sex online. You have the potential of hurting the person you are becoming involved with deeply, especially if they read more into the events than do you. You will potentially destroy relationships that are very serious OOC. Your lark can potentially destroy lives. On the other hand, I've seen online relationships become real life romances leading, even, to marriage. So just remember that the person on the other end is a real person with real feeelings and a real life. Sex involves deep-rooted human emotions. An encounter that seems wholly IC to you can easily be taken as an OOC event. Just be careful. Sex online has the potential to affect not only the one you are engaged with, but also his or her spouse and children. Trust me, I've been on both sides and been there with different goals at different times. 'Nuff said.
Well, I hope this has been instructive in some way or another. I'm finally putting it online for public consumption and public comment. Please send me your comments and enjoy the world of online gaming while avoiding some of the possible pitfalls.
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If you have problems, comments, questions, or complaints about the GS III pages you can send mail to Tim Melton (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Last modified 31 December 1996.