This begins a series of articles on role play is second life. Second Life is the most detailed virtual world platform today. With the tools available to shape Second Life to the needs of the user, the game has the potential to become the stage for the next generation of role players. Multitudes of landscapes have been built, and more are built daily to provide a backdrop for limitless storylines.
Gor, the word itself brings to mind muscled warriors and scantily clad beautiful women. The Gorean community is currently one of the largest role-play communities in Second Life, and probably the most misunderstood. Gorean role-play is based around the works of John Norman, the pen-name of Dr. John Lange, a professor of Philosophy and a classical scholar. The works of John Norman are often painted with ethnography, as he populated Gor with the equivalents of Romans, Greeks, Native Americans, Vikings, and other cultures. Started in 1967 Gor is an intricately detailed world in terms of flora, fauna, and customs. All of this detail makes it an ideal setting for role play. Sadly Gor's mature nature has prevented gaming companies from approaching it as a game concept. Second Life thus becomes an ideal platform for fans of John Norman's works.
In the storyline of the books the population groups of Gor are actually transplants from Earth brought to Gor via space-craft by the Priest-Kings, an extraterrestrial species of insectoid appearance. The cultures are advanced in the areas of architecture and medical technology, but are forced to remain primitive as far as transportation and weaponry are concerned because of restrictions imposed by the Priest-Kings. This is in place to insure the safety of all the peoples of Gor due to the violent nature of humans.
The people of the Second Life Gorean community have lovingly reproduced much of the world of Gor that John Norman wrote about. One important thing to remember is that Second Life landscapes are built by the fans for other fans, thus making them more complete than many landscapes offered by major players in the MMORPG market. In just my time amongst them for this article I have found a well developed economy, diverse settings, and enough drama to even keep the most cannon role-player happy. It's all there and ready to be explored. The players have devised an economy that is not based on the linden and accounts for crafting. This economic systems leads to the trade of goods, and to coinage that can be looted in combat, creating even more role-play and drama for the players involved.
Combat and the arts of war are a huge part in the Gorean role-play in Second Life. I had the privilege of speaking to Nokomus Sautereau, Commander of Mercenary camp in Gor Second Life. This group of Mercenaries trades goods for services rendered as part of their role-play. An example of this trade is if they are called to aid in the defense of a camp or city every man that comes is expected one T1 item regardless of the outcome. The Mercenary camp itself is very well set up with towers, barracks, and meeting areas setting the stage of great role-play.
Player vs. Player combat all takes place in first person leading to the possibility of ambushes, backstabbing, and surprise. Players with some First Person Shooter experience will have some skill right off, but the entire combat system is easy to learn and exciting. Although Second Life was never truly designed for combat, the systems now in place are better than many of the new MMORPGs on the market today. When we asked Nokomus if he had any advice for the new player this is the response we got: "Best advice I can give is approach it like any other game you may start. Learn the story, the background, and equip yourself properly. Be respectful of other people because for some this is their lifestyle, and find a group your comfortable working with."
As with any MMORPG there is a learning curve, but grab yourself a damage HUD and give it a try.
We had had the chance to speak with Celadori Sakai on the subject of clothing in Gor. Celadori Sakai is a designer of Gorean clothing in Second Life. The clothing of Gor is very diverse, but can be summed up as a combination of Roman, Greek, and Arabian styles. The Kajiras of Gor wear silks for the pleasure of their owners, these various silk garments are colored to show the Kajira's place in society. Kajira also commonly wear the camisk, the camisk is a rectangle of cloth, with a hole cut for the head, rather like a poncho. The edges are commonly folded and stitched to prevent raveling and normally falls to the knees. The edges are commonly folded and stitched to prevent raveling and normally falls to the knees. The peasants and lower cast wear simple tunics, jerkins, or crude trousers for both the men and the women although the Camisk is also occasionally worn in the lower casts also.
High casts wear the finery that one would expect of the highest members of Roman, Greek, and Arabian society. One curious garment is the Robe of Concealment. These are worn by free women to conceal their faces and bodies. The dominant colors of the Robes of Concealment are subtle reds, yellows and purples, arrayed in intricate overlapping folds. Many of the free women of Gor, and almost always those of High Caste, wear the Robes of Concealment. The Robes of Concealment are very intricate and cumbersome. Normally, of men, only a father and a husband may look upon the woman unveiled. In the barbaric world of Gor, the Robes of Concealment are deemed necessary to protect the women from the binding fibres of roving tarnsmen. Few warriors will risk their lives to capture a woman who may be as ugly as a Tharlarion.
The Gor Hub in Second Life is a place where those new to Gor, and those active in Gor, can meet. The design of the Hub makes it an ideal setting for learning more about Gor while not jumping in blindly. We had the pleasure of speaking to Fabien DeSantis, designer of the Gor Hub in Second Life and an associate of hers in regard to the Gor Hub and Gorean Second Life.