Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Christmas Season in Second Life

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.

Norman Vincent Peale


          I know it’s getting on towards Christmastime in Real Life (RL) when the last of the Thanksgiving turkey is finished and Black Friday unleashes its fury on the world. 

          I know it’s getting on towards Christmastime in Second Life (SL) when my old friend inworld, Perryn Peterson, drops me a line and asks if I’d like a preview of the current year’s
Christmas extravaganza in SL!

          The Mieville Christmas event is an annual feature of a very active SL social calendar. 

          Each year has a different theme. 

          Past themes have been A Christmas Carol, Christkindlkmarkt, and the last time the River Thames froze over. 

          As usual, I kick off my own Christmas season by meeting with Perryn and getting a sneak peek at the festivities before the official opening. 

          (Significant Other adds writing Christmas cards to the list of pre-Holiday fun.)

          This year’s theme is Christmas Land!

          And, it’s a no holds barred jump into the joy, pageantry, and innocent celebration which makes up the Christmas season!

          The Christmas Land sim comprises four Lands which make up the sim along with Santa’s Hangout.

          These are Snow Land, Candy Land, Toy Land, and Lights Land.

          Each has its own unique perspective on Christmas.

          My tour begins with my rezzing into an ice palace where I meet my tour guide, Perryn.

Walking through the entrance to Christmas Land takes us out onto the main street.

          Multi-colored passenger rail cars line both sides of the street where glimpses of life-sized toys and Christmas decorations can be seen between the cars.

          The four Christmas Lands can be found off this main street.

          The eponymously named sims each show a different aspect of the Holiday traditions. 

          True to his customary cleverness, Perryn has ensured that Christmas Land is different from all the Christmas festivals of the past!

          New games and amusements from Miss Tailahr Winnikow are in evidence across the Lands.

          New merchants’ booths from Sebastian (AKA Sebby) Tiogar in the shape of Christmas decorations and novelties are everywhere.  (Along with merchants and their
wares to fill them!)

          Topping it all off is Santa Claus’ Hangout with his throne room and the reindeer stables. 

          (Perryn as well as several of his colleagues will be filling in for Santa this year.)

          The Advent Calendar with a different gift for visitors for each day leading up to Christmas is also located in Santa’s Hangout.

          Across the skating ring which is directly in front of the Hangout is the gacha hall where seasonal gachas can be obtained,

          Some of the new activities include customizing the snow person, snow ball fights, sledding and snowmen bowling (definitely not for the faint of heart), ice fishing, and new rides like the rising cookie ride!

          Give them all a try!

          Other highlights include gifts from the merchants (don’t forget to check the peppermint candy boxes scattered across Christmas Land), Arcadia Asylum’s marvelous freebies are
available at the Cog & Grog shop, and Moonsugah Monday’s fabulous refreshments which can almost be tasted are available!

          (BTW Moonsugah has recently moved her shop into Mieville Twain!)

          Christmas Land is a fun and lighthearted view of Christmas which can be enjoyed by everyone and I certainly recommend all to come and get into the spirit of the Holiday! 

          Christmas Land can be found here and will be open from November 27th to January 3rd.

          Come, have fun, and enjoy yourselves!

          Bring friends!

          (Snowball fights are no fun all by yourself!)

          Tell ‘em web sent you!

          (And watch out for those snowballs!)

          I’d like to thank Perryn for taking the time to meet with me and giving the guided tour!

          I’d also like to thank him and his team for another wonderful Christmas festival!

          More pictures from my visit can be found on this flicker page. 

As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Role Playing in Second Life I – Casterly Rock

A mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.

George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones


          Recently, an old friend from my Gorean days in Second Life (SL), Hina Tarly,
reached out to me and asked if I had any interest in blogging about role playing inworld.

          In particular, Hina wanted to know if I’d blog about her current role play project in SL, Casterly Rock.    

          Having not really gone too deep into role playing inworld yet and always interested in delving into a new SL community, I agreed and scheduled an interview with Hina and her fellow role players.

          Casterly Rock is a medieval role playing community in SL based on A Game of Thrones books written by George R. R. Martin and the HBO series of the same name.  The sim is based three hundred years before the time period in the books so there is plenty of room for creative license in the role play. 

          So, donning my old scribe’s costume from my Gor days (Significant Other says I look like an overstuffed chair in it.  I prefer to describe the look as authentic.) I head off to meet the role playing community of Casterly Rock.

          I rezz into Casterly arriving at the docks where I’m greeted by Hina, whose title is 
Hand of the Queen.  (Which begs the question, which hand?)

          I must admit to having been a little overwhelmed by my reception.

          Not only was Hina there to welcome me but upwards of a dozen other residents as well! 

          (As you can tell, I don’t normally get the full welcoming committee.  Significant Other suggests it may have just been idle curiosity about my costume.) 

          Space precludes me from listing everyone who was there.

          However, several notables such as Her Grace Queen Morgane and Commander
Adele, Commander of the City Watch came out to greet me.

          (Significant Other feels the Top Cop for Casterly being there was a cautionary move on their part.) 

          Assorted princesses and ladies also crowd around. 

          The greetings are effusive and genuine. 

          The clothing worn by everyone is more elaborate and better tailored than any I’ve seen before inworld.

          Interestingly, with one exception all my greeters are women. 

          Queen Morgane suggests we all retire to a nearby tavern to sample the wine and talk. 

          Never needing a second invitation in such matters, I wander over with my newfound friends and sit at an outside table to hear about Casterly Rock.

          The ale and wine flow and people begin to talk!

          I ask Her Grace why was A Game of Thrones chosen as the sim’s theme and she replies that they’re all addicts of the books and the TV series. 

          Hina tells me that a number of the residents were role playing on a sim called Highgarden when the sim closed and Queen Moragne bought the Homestead sim, where Casterly Rock is located, and they moved here to continue the game of Thrones Role play. 

          Her Grace informs me that Casterly Rock is part of a three realm sim with Highgarden and Dorne being the other two.        

Hina adds that some came from Gor where they were upset with how the environment had changed and wanted a roleplay that was something they all loved. 

Gor has been centered around sex over the last couple of years according to Hina and this is why some of them left as they are looking for quality role play.

There are no slaves here. 

Casterly Rock has an excellent group of experienced role players according to Hina and new role players have wonderful people to learn from and they are encouraged to jump in with both feet. 

The group tells me that they really try to encourage role play and that sex is not an I
mportant part of their role play up to this time.  If it does take place, it would take place away from prying eyes in private houses and that sort of thing. 

Her Grace says that it is possible they will have a brothel one day and she is hoping to host a weekly bath night. Thus, no sex but possibly nudity which is why Casterly Rock has an adult rating. 

Queen Morgane continues that not finding many sims in SL offering decent role play this became an opportunity live the medieval fantasy. 

          Hina explains that as some of them have role played for quite a while together before it gave them an excellent base to start a new sim on.  She says they have been blessed by the Old Gods that many fine people have found their way to Casterly Rock. 

I ask about their rules for role play in Casterly Rock. 

Hina chuckles saying they don't have a long list of written rules, respect for each other’s characters, role play that represents A Game of Thrones,   and NO DRAMA.  (Hina’s emphasis not mine!)

During my visit, I notice that emphasis is placed on being in character (IC) versus out of character (OOC) with the former preferred.

(I probably didn’t do as well here as would have been liked.  I promise to do better next time!) 

I ask whether role play is scripted or is it spontaneous.  Hina responds that it is the latter. 

Hina explains further that a role play may start but whoever initiates the story will never know quite where it will go and usually it is not the direction intended. 

(Sounds a lot like Real Life (RL) doesn’t it?) 

Game flow is a combination of many individual stories tying into one story arc and everyone for themselves.

(Yep, definitely like RL!) 

Hina adds that for herself it is the joy of being with these people she has become close to and never knowing what each day may bring that makes her happy.

I next ask about combat and am told that combat is done with a meter.

Role play must lead to all combat and there is no attacking without sufficient role playing reason to do so. 

The evening draws on and I wish to be mindful of everyone’s time and still get to take a quick tour of Casterly Rock but I have one unanswered question.

Why so few men?

There is no one definite answer. 

Some admit they don’t know, others say men prefer to role play fighting as opposed to community role playing, some that men don’t like being commanded by women, and Hina adds that some of the women are decent with weapons. 

(I’m learning to stay on the good side of Hina!)

All are welcome and especially men!

(Remember guys, it’s about role play not sex! I’m probably going to lose one of my three loyal readers with that last comment.)

We step away from the table and my tour begins.

Hina leads and we are accompanied by a small group. 

(I don’t anyone could ever get lonely in Casterly Rock!)

We stroll by the docks where I see the ship commandeered by Her Grace’s privateer. 

A warehouse stands ready to receive merchandise. 

(I tactfully avoided asking about the provenance of such merchandise.  Even Significant Other admits I only look stupid.) 

We then turn into the town of Lannisport which is dominated by a castle sitting high
on a promontory looking down on all below.

(Where do you think they got the Casterly Rock from?  There will be story of this impressive build in my Great Castles series at a future date.) 

The town is comprised of shops, residences, and government offices.  The attention to detail in their correction is impressive.

Unlike some SL sims claiming to have shops but in reality are nothing more than empty storefronts with signs outfront, these shops are full of merchandise supplied by their shopkeepers.

The greengrocers has to be seen to be believed and the dressmaker has beautiful dresses and fabrics on display. 

(I’m told she is equally talented with men’s fashions.)

Oh, and BTW, if you’re thinking of visiting and acting out, think again.

          There is a jail and the Commander of the City Watch is a no nonsense, law and order type. 

          Beyond the town are forests and there has been mention of bear so be careful if you venture that far in your visit! 

          Hina has been the chief architect and artist builder in Casterly Rock and her skills are of the highest order! 

          Unfortunately, I must take my leave of Casterly Rock at this time.

          RL calls!

          (In other words, I have to get some sleep as I’m sure some of my hosts must do as well.)

          This will be first of several stories about Casterly Rock.

          I plan to visit among the nobles and small folk who comprise its residents.

          Jousts, archery, bear hunts, and social functions seem to be but a small part of their social calendar. 

          But, more to the point, this is group of people who are genuinely happy with one another and enjoy their role play together.

          This is a very successful example of the type of community building in SL which makes it such a special place. 

          Casterly Rock is a friendly and welcoming community. 

          Their role play is highly evolved and interactive.

          The large number of experienced role players from other sims definitely helps here. 

          Casterly Rock seeks new members especially men.

          Four legged creatures are welcome as well!

          I strongly encourage all to visit and if you’re interested to join. 

          Casterly Rock can be found here. 

          The group is called Hear Me Roar.

          If you do visit please be respectful of their role play and dress in medieval type clothing.     

          Oh, one more thing…

          I was so impressed that I joined too!

          Apparently, they didn’t have too many guys who wanted to be scribes!

          Plus, I just learned that I get paid too! 

          I’d like to thank Hina for arranging my visit and taking the time from her busy inworld schedule to meet with me.

          I’d also like to thank Her Grace Queen Morgane and Her Court for coming to welcome me, taking the time to meet with me anwswering my questions, and welcoming me into the family!

          More to come about Casterly Rock!   

          Additional pictures from my visit can be found on this flickr page.

           As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Thanksgiving in Second Life

I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.

Henry David Thoreau


          Summer is becoming a distant memory as autumn wraps itself around us here in Real Life (RL). 

          (At least here in the northeastern part of the United States (US).  Significant Other is already checking to make sure the thermostat is turned up.  Apparently, I’m no longer trusted with this duty.  It was only one mistake, admittedly a cold one, but still only one mistake!)

          For the first time since I’ve been blogging about Second Life (SL), I have an opportunity to write about Thanksgiving inworld. 

          Thanksgiving is the annual US holiday celebrated on the last Thursday of November.  It commemorates the feast held by the Pilgrim settlers in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621 after a bountiful harvest. 

          They had arrived on November 11, 1620 off the coast of Massachusetts after a long and difficult voyage from England which they’d left because of religious intolerance. 

          The first winter was difficult and between it and the voyage, fifty of the original settlers and ship’s crew had passed away by the spring of 1621.

          Their celebration marked the survival of their colony and their thanks to God.

          It took a few centuries, but Thanksgiving eventually became a national holiday in the US. 

          My three loyal readers (The third one is actually sticking around!  And no, contrary to what Significant Other implies, I’m not paying him!) may recall my recent meeting with Lora Chadbourne, my new friend in SL and an accomplished builder.

          I’ve blogged about her builds of the Garden Tomb in the Holy Land and the Simpsons’ home. 

          Lora had told me that she would be reinstalling her Mayflower build for the
Thanksgiving Holiday in the US and I promised to visit and to write about it.

          An interesting fact about Lora is that she’s a descendent on her mother’s side of one of the original Mayflower settlers, James Chilton. 

          James was probably the oldest settler on the Mayflower.  He was also one of the forty-one signers of the Mayflower Compact, an agreement among the settlers as to how their new colony would be governed.  Sadly, James passed away shortly after their arrival. 

          Well, folks, here’s the story! 

          Rezzing into the sim where the Mayflower is moored, (Like that use of nautical terminology!  OK, I would have said “parked” but for Significant Other’s shoulder surfing.) I’m in front of the gangplank leading aboard her. 

          Lora says that there are no contemporary paintings or drawings of the Mayflower so she had creative license while designing and building her.  She did try to stay true to what an English ship of that time would look like and what she could research from passengers’ accounts. 

          The Mayflower as envisioned by Laura is a small, three masted ship with fore and aft structures at either end which sheltered crew and passengers while at sea.  A jib mast is at the bow of the ship. 

          Except for the aforementioned structures. There are only two decks on the Mayflower.  The main deck and the lower gun deck.  (Guess what they kept down there?) 

          Boarding the ship, I take a quick tour which given how small she is, it’s about the only kind to take! 

          Lora has done her usual exemplary work in designing and constructing this build.

          I’m able to access all parts of the ship, going up ladders and through hatches and

          The sense of how small the Mayflower was comes across. 

          Then when I think of how 102 people comprising passengers and crew were aboard her for sixty-six days of rough seas and illness, claustrophobia begins to settle in!  (Not only that but three women were pregnant and one delivered on the voyage over!)

          Lora’s usual attention to detail is evident in the jackscrew holding up the main support beam which was pressed into use when the latter began to crack after the stresses of a storm avoiding having to return to England.

          One interesting fact that I learned from this visit is that ships of this period did not have wheels for steering.  Instead, a tiller staff was moved by the crew from side to side below decks as the captain yelled down instructions from above. 

          (Wouldn’t want to try that in a bad storm!)

          Disembarking from the Mayflower, I see a sign pointing in the direction of Plymouth settlement. 

          I wander down the path as I tend to do inworld.  (Significant Other mutters something about my doing that in RL as well.)

          Lora has recreated the homes and other structures from the original colony here. 

          Particularly impressive is the meeting house which also doubled as the colony’s fort
and dominates the Settlement. 

          Religious services and town meetings where held here. 

          In the event of an attack by either Indians (This was their thanks for helping the settlers!) or other Europeans (Remember this was about 400 years before the European Union!), the settlers would gather here for safety under the protection of the cannons mounted upstairs. 

          Outside the meeting house, Lora has the first Thanksgiving meal represented. 

          On the other side of Plymouth Settlement is a recreation of an Indian village which adds to the character of the entire sim. 

          Lora has done her usual exceptional and thorough job in recreating the Mayflower and Plymouth settlement. 

          The Mayflower took Lora two weeks to build and another week for the Settlement. 

          As always when visiting her work, I enjoyed myself and learned a few things that I didn’t know before!

          I encourage everyone to visit and take in this incredible sim!

          But hurry!

          It probably won’t be there much past Thanksgiving as Lora needs the space for her next build! 

          The Mayflower can be found here.    

          Happy Thanksgiving!

          One final note, because this build was so prim intensive, Lora didn’t have any space for a tip jar.

          So, if you’d like to express your thanks and help Lora defray the costs of her builds then please send a small donation to her directly inworld! 

          Oh, and whatever became of the original Mayflower in RL?

          She returned to England in the spring of 1621 to resume her life as a merchant ship.  Sadly, after a year of lying unused and in probate after the death of her captain, she was dismantled for scrap lumber in 1624 in London. 

          Additional pictures from my visit can be found on this flickr page. 

          I’d like to thank Lora for her great work and her contributions to the SL community!

          I’m grateful to her for helping me with this story!   

As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!