Written by: Umberto Giano
Images by: Celestial Pleides & Lita Menges
The mighty Vosk River flows westward across the counter-earth of Gor, emptying into the great sea of Thassa. For thousands of years merchants navigated this broad and powerful river, plying their trade as wealthy settlements developed upon its fertile banks. Ars Station, Victoria, along with many others prove to be lucrative targets for privateers, invaders, and other unsavory characters. In response to this existential threat, the 19 free towns situated on the banks of the Vosk banded together to form the Vosk League. Together, in 10,127 C.A. The Vosk League crushed the pirates who once terrorized these hamlets.
Now, relatively insulated from invaders and the byzantine machinations of Cos and Ar – the great city-states which vie for influence over the Vosk – the river towns grow and prosper. It is in this time that the former Ubar of Keibel forsakes the world of politics and intrigue with the intention of increasing his naval commerce interests, choosing a small, unassuming town on the Vosk to build his shipyards. This is the story of that town – Hammerfest on the Vosk.
Hammerfest is, without a doubt, one of the most distinctive Gorean cities in SL. Developed by Italian Gor enthusiasts as a port city, Hammerfest is full of provocative angles. Canals serving as thoroughfares are carved into the city, alternating with the streets. Artfully textured, the town’s colors and sounds fire the imaginations of players and immerse them into the role-play of city life on the Vosk.
Owners and SL partners Abrahel Brim and Celestial Pleides gave tremendous thought to Hammerfest before building it, and equal time was spent before they were satisfied enough to declare it finished. Celestial states, “Building, aside from role-playing, is our passion,” and explains how much study and planning went into the conception and foundation of Hammerfest. Despite all the planning that went into this port, Hammerfest began as the result of chance, growing slowly from a single small parcel. Celestial remembers, “Everything had its start by mere chance, actually … we had just at first the small parcel, as a ‘buen retiro,’ in August … then more people came to visit and asked to play here, so, as other adjacent parcels opened up, we seized upon the opportunity to grow and extend our property to encompass the entire land.”
“Building and believing in an environment like Hammerfest was truly a long shot in a time when Gor Italy was in the midst of disruption in a climate of OOC (out of character) conflicts and great confusion,” explains Celestial. “Hammerfest was founded in order to stimulate story line, with exhaustive background, different from the classical model of Gorean cities. Our aim is to build a small realm, a truly BTB [‘by the book,’ referring to a strict adherence to Gor as depicted in John Norman’s books] scenario, for those who love true role-play over the typical practices of raids, captures, and rapes without purpose or a story behind it.
Another aspect of Hammerfest that marks it as different from other SL Gorean cities and sims is the language spoken. “I assume the only great difference consists in the native language – Italian – which most of the gamers who inhabit Hammerfest speak,” notes Celestial. “It’s a true challenge for us to have forged a scene completely ‘by the books,’ played by Italians, and engage in a circle of major cities of long tradition storyline; it’s the first time ever for an Italian project [within Gor] to achieve prominence on the international scene.”
While Hammerfest was built, and is owned, by Italians, the residents of the city reflect an international diversity. During my own tour of this beautiful hamlet, I came across players from around the world – all of whom could speak English.
June Rabeni, a sim administrator, also notes that the diversity in Hammerfest extends to the castes, which run the city. All castes, high and low, are represented at Hammerfest. She cautions, “One must not underestimate the lower castes, because Hammerfest is a city devoted to trade, and, unlike many other Gorean sims, merchants, artisans, and all other low castes constitute a fundamental part of our role-play.” A refreshing change indeed.
Evidently there is a hunger on the grid for complex, immersive Gorean role-play. After only five months, Hammerfest’s traffic and citizenry have tripled, and the sim often appears full. I asked June how Hammerfest will relate to the other Vosk League towns on the grid and what the future holds for Hammerfest. “We are still working on this focus, hoping to engage something absolutely new in a large-scale project. According to the books, the league was founded to confront pirates and their menace along the Vosk and the coast. Common enemies are the best adhesive.” She adds, “And for sure, many gamers here are willing to play in such a complicated and exciting scenario. So, who knows?!”
Role-Play Guide Magazine will follow Hammerfest on the Vosk and report new developments from this innovative and fascinating river village.