(warning: contains some Stargate and Battlestar Galactica material!)
= This site is under complete reconstruction. Only the POSTS and ABOUT links are up =
The definition of roleplaying is quite large. This one will only address interactive "text" roleplaying done on the internet, for free, created by amateurs for amateurs, with a heavy slant on email-based games. The goal is for the newcomer coming across this site to be able to form a picture, while acquiring some of the vocabulary.
On the internet, roughly from the end of the 80's, players from many countries have gathered in roleplaying games or "simulations" (sims, RPGs). They can be called roleplayers or simmers.
In dedicated chat rooms, on message boards or by email, roleplayers become part of a group of 10-20 people on average. In an environment called "gameverse" (a fantasy place, an Earth city, a starbase, a starship, a colony on a different planet, in the past, present or future) they collaborate on creating a whole adventure - like a novel or an episode of a TV series.
The gameverse can be an original creation or based on a book, a TV series, an animé series. Some are mission-driven (a storyline unfolds and resolves, the gameverse ends or continues for many more rounds). Others are fed mainly by the story arcs the players create for themselves.
The gameverse is most often enhanced by a website, a wiki, a blog or any combination of the three. If based off an established fictional universe like Star Trek or Harry Potter, it may also draw from many external resources created by fandom in general.
The game's online resource normally stores at least: a list of the characters and their roles (population roster, crew manifest), with the biographies; a description of the gameverse (where, when, what) completed by more or less advanced technical details on the era, available equipment, location; guidelines which may go from "do's and don'ts" to a full player guide.
Many people from amateurs to professionals also created often high quality (free) material: anything from blueprints for a new class of starship, moded images, sets of rank pips, backgrounds and avatars, animated logos, name generators, time /distance converters... the list goes on. Netiquette indicates that the source material should be credited; some creators require an authorization to use their material.
Simming has been around long enough that in 2005, Anodyne Productions created dedicated software, distributed for free and widely in use: SMS (Simm Management Systems) devoted to Star Trek, has become Nova, a cross-genre, customizable template interface to upload on a server; it rolls into one a typical website, an email server, management tools (members, stats, database).
There are thousands of PBEM sims - and even more platforms (from a website to Twitter) offering dedicated resources, or advertising and recruitment adverts centres for players. It goes from the amateur pages on a free webhost to bulky sites with their own server (email, forum, chat channel) and support team. Whatever the internet and media technology offer is usually soon incorporated; podcasts, newscasts, introduction videos and many more.
Each player creates one or several characters and mostly plays from that character's perspective as a given mission (storyline) unfolds. The defining characteristic of a character are written down as a biography, or char bio for short.
The past decade has seen a considerable increase in cross-gender portraying (a male player with a female character or vice versa). Many more characters now feature a non-caucasian physical type when Humans, an ethnic background beyond WASP or a "different strokes" attitude to love and life; this all regardless of who the player actually is.
In practice, the difference between the various types of simming mainly boil down to in three points: 1) formatting conventions on how to present one's contribution, 2) what leeway if any there is in using another player's character and driving the plot 3) the ratio of solo contributions vs joint contributions (2 players or more interacting directly to create a scene).
These differences are more meaningful that it may seem. The simmer born to a certain type of practice may not find the experience so satisfying in a different environment, even one part of the global standards that stemmed from simming history. These elements shape the output and simming skills of the user, along with the overall feel of the game.
The game is managed and led by a game master (GM) with help from an assistant. Depending on sims, the role may be held or not by the same person portraying the gameverse's leader (colonial administrator, mayor, commanding officer...).
Newcomers to a game, depending on local practice, may need to be trained by the GM or through an Academy if part of a group of sims. Game managers, unless self-appointed in the case of independent simulations, generally go through a period of training topped with creating and leading a mission (an episode).
The most important sub-sections of these simming groups play by email, on forums or live, in dedicated chat rooms via IRC or instant messenger. There have been many variations on these three options as technical possibilities opened up (Facebook, Twitter, their equivalents, SMS messages).
The Memory Prime archive is mostly about the "amateur writer" side of PBEM RPGs, ie "played-by-email roleplaying games". PBM stands for play-by-mail which is now more in favour. "Play-by-post game" is a recent addition.
Live simming or Chat Sims remain vastly popular. Originally done on software called IRC (still around), it consists in a simming group gathering at a given hour, often weekly, in a chat room to improvise their lines of dialogue and reactions to a scene of the unfolding mission; meanwhile the GM inputs "actions", provides more details as needed or assigns roles. Such groups may call "sim" not the whole game, but the live session proper.
The session is saved. The edited log is circulated among players and archived. Additional "sims" may be done by two or more players gathering online for an aside. Personal "logs" may be via email by individual players to supplement the live session; some groups make it part of the rules of attendance.
Birds of a kind flock together. The more, the merrier. This and the history of simming (see other resources in the Links section) are one way to explain why simming organisations, federating anywhere from a handful to dozens of games, exist.
Another is to say that strength is in numbers. While the core group of a game may be around for years, turnover is a reality. The cardinal need of any RPG is recruitment. Independent sims (also called Indy) may have trouble thriving. That is were RPG organizations, sometimes called clubs or fleets, come in.
Some are a simple support platform: they have the master site, volunteers dedicated to maintaining, resources (in-house help guides, webdesign support, an email server, a chat server, a forum and so on). The sims can have a common theme, like Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate or the organization can be a collection of sims with different environments.
Other RPG organizations are united around a single universe. In that case, there is usually a hierarchy, particularly if that universe is based off a military or para-military background; as players gather experience, they are promoted and may train to become eligible for openings at game management level (GM) and beyond (senior staff). It is frequent in the Star Trek universe to see a pseudo-military structure reproduced within and outside the sim, with varied degrees of flexibility: players are people and nobody gets paid.
The history of simming is bountiful with great games that still are still going after a decade or more, lasting writing partnerships and friendships too. But it is also threwn with lost sims, disappeared players or GMs, splinter fleets, 404 pages.
Any long term player will move around; be part of several sims, in several simming orgs; he or she may come to be known by different pseudos (a favorite of the early days on the internet, fading); they may recreate a favorite character, with a different twist, in a later gameverse.
This is why this archive, while doing its best for organizing material, is more devoted to putting the material out there for starters, so it can be indexed again by search engines.
Ultimately, something is always lost - but much remains and more wonderous new worlds are being built every day, out there on the simming frontier!
Nathalie Chapman started roleplaying by email in Fall 1999. Having applied simultaneously to Bravo Fleet and Tango Fleet, she sent her first post to Starbase Bravo on October 18. One month later, she graduated from Tango Fleet Academy - whose training was really helpful - and joined the USS Avalon.
In following years she became in 2001 an Indy CO with the USS Liberty; an academy instructor; the Tango Fleet POTM and Awards person (maintaining these pages); chief of personnel (assigning graduates); dean of command school (training command personnel).
During that time she sometimes played in other Fleets as well, her longest stint taking place in Hawking Fleet: Starbase 74 and Carthage Colony.
In 2004 she left Tango Fleet and shut down the USS Liberty. Over the next couple of years she trained for and played two alternative brands of simming, live (on IRC) and forum-based in ACTD: A Call To Duty.
In June 2005 she joined the USS Swiftsure. In October 2006 she inherited the USS Swiftsure and polled the crew to join Sixth Fleet, the successor to Tango Fleet. Since then the simulation went through several ships and gameverses with the same core crew: USS Poseidon, USS Avalon-A, USS Axanar.
In ensuing years she was in turns chief of personnel, assistant academy commandant, co-editor in chief of the Sixth Fleet's Federation News Network (FNN). She made it to Commodore then Rear Admiral and received several Fleet-level awards.
In 2006 she decided to assemble her simming archives into a site. Due to other occupations, the project went into a lull and was reprised
In March 2011, she was the recipient of the Simming League's Prize for her style as a Game Master. Later that year she was a jury member on the Simming League's Tournament of Simulations. In 2012 (?) she hosted a discussion at an online simming convention.
In July 2011, Nathalie Chapman was elected the Sixth Fleet's Commander in Chief. She stepped down in March 2011 and was promoted to Vice-Admiral.
As of 2013, Nathalie Chapman has assumed the triple role of chief of personnel, academy commandant and dean of command school, though it doesn't mean as much work as it used to - thankfully, sort of.
To conclude this résumé, Nathalie may be known by character names including Tanih Taan, Mandy Ryan, Sandy Browne, Carrie French, Martin Paulsen, Cho Jin, Ramos, Santos, (Capt.) Romanelle "Rome" Podhigar and currently Cmdre Paula Chapman.
Her other current endeavour is to retrace the full list of her simulations and characters. If you think you know her, please click on the Contact tab.
Every year, every day, websites go down, web hosts disappear... what is not yet lost may well be tomorrow.
This site is a non profit initiative and a labour of love, done with utmost respect for the people behind the simming memories it means to preserve.
It will be primarily enjoyed by former players of the simulations represented.
Should someone object to an item being featured here, please let me know. In case of removal, I will reserve the right to mention what and for what reasons.
StarTrek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise along with the movies, books, comics, animated series are registered trademarks of Paramount Pictures and its affiliates. No copyright violation is intended.
The same fandom spirit applies to Stargate, Stargate SG1, Stargate Universe and to Battlestar Galactica revisited.