GAELA: Oriental Steam Fantasy … OH MY!
The comforting shroud of night slips over the city. The ever-present hiss of steam engines are the only sounds, save the soft clop of boots on pavement. The moon shines its yellow hue on the walk as the traveler takes in the view. Cogs spin and machines whir as he moves further within the city walls. What would this place hold for him? Tales of demons would come to mind, garnering a simple smile from him. He would straighten his top hat and look to the rooftops above. A flap of unfurled wings and the stranger would be above them, sweeping his gaze over the city below. The long shadow of an airship in the distance, slides over the Asian looking buildings while the soft glow of steam-driven lights would play off the looming fog. What would the city hold for him, indeed? Whatever the heart desired!
Our first realm review here in the newly merged Nu Vibez and Role play Guide magazine and I happen to bump into Role play Sim owner, Ethan Stephans (ethanstephans).
“Ethan, tell me, how did you come up with the concept of your sim?” I asked him as I walked around snapping photos. With a grin and a wink, he was quick to share, “Well, originally, the concept was created to fit those troublesome characters that just don’t seem to fit in anywhere else, such as medieval Steampunk vampires and Void children, or half-demon half-celestials/angels. As we began building and figuring out some of the complications with others, the sim took on a more oriental feel and low and behold, the theme became oriental steam fantasy as we call it.
“That’s very interesting, but for our readers who may not know, could you please describe what Steampunk is and how does it fit in your sim’s back-story?” I inquired. “Of course,” he was happy to humor us. “Steampunk, in a nutshell, is set in the Victorian era with steam-driven gadgets. In many cases there are items such as cogs and wheels which use steam to work and in most cases these are fashioned from metal. The steam train, for example, was an inspiration for the Steampunk era as is Da Vinci and all things clockwork. Water is also something that has been used in Steampunk, though much less often. In our sim’s back-story we chose not to use fossil fuels as a means for technological advancement and rather have the story progress through nature’s own energy sources; magic, water, heat and momentum.”
“What do you feel is a hidden gem on your sim?” I continued. “Oh … The Library.” He answered quickly. “It’s the headquarters of the dark faction. Technically, this is the place most who are of the lighter alignments, would not wish to go, but it seems to draw them in with its picturesque setting and simple elegance. The second would have to be the Underdark caves and its complimenting Keepers Cave.”
Curious about the extensive variety, I felt compelled to ask, “What type of characters are permitted to be role-played on your sim? What type aren’t?” To which Ethan was swift in response, “pretty much any race, age, genre or range is welcome in Gaela. All we ask is that you have some written information on a race that we are not familiar with, good pros and cons to make them believable and a good back-story that makes the character fit together with itself. After that it’s just a matter of how the player chooses to have them fit into Gaela.”
Is help provided for those new to role play and/or Second Life? “Yes. We have free items, landmarks, information and even classes if they choose. There are also mentors and admins, all willing to assist the new player.”
What equipment and/or clothing is required to role-play on your sim? “There are no set requirements for what to wear or use, we only ask that you not wear anything futuristic such as modern robotics and space gear. We also ask that guns not be newer than the old west era, without first discussing it with an admin for approval and under no circumstances will gas powered items be allowed.”
Well much as I hate to admit it, rules are really important in role play environments so to that end, I asked Ethan, what the most important rules of his sim are. He was very succinct in his response which is very good for avoiding confusion with players! “Be courteous and respectful. Treat others as you would wish to be treated. No age-play with or among the child avies. No metagaming, powergaming or godmodding and no pre-published characters – be original!”
Ethan mentioned age-play and child avatars in our question about rules which surprised me that child avatars are allowed in Gaela. There is so much controversy surrounding the use of child avatars anywhere in Second Life, but most especially in role-play environments which seem to usually ban them altogether. On one hand they creep many people out, on the other their are all the issues surrounding child abuse, child pornography or pedophilia. Because of the legal ramifications, Second Life has very strict rules related to the use of child avatars in Second Life. With all this in mind, it begs the following questions:
Why did you choose to allow child avatars to get involved in the role play at your sim? “There were several reasons involved in the choice. The first one being that we want Gaela to be a Family oriented sim and not have the rules against wanting to have children. If there are intimate situations, there will be pregnancy and children – they are the natural result of that, no matter the race. There’s also the fact that two of the other founders and I have child avies and we wanted a place for all our characters to feel at home. Finally we felt that people that wished to play needed some leeway as far as race choice. Most have so many stipulations that all children usually end up human or some light creature, we did not want that here. The only races off-limits to children are ones that are blatant in sexual content such as the incubi.”
What do you do to prevent the misuse of these avatars? “We have strict rules set in place for the players and watch the ones who choose to be children. There is discussion in the works about having those who are not regular child players, being required to submit an adult character first, so the admins can get to know the player’s in question. There is also a one strike rule for those that break any of the stipulations regarding children. We do NOT tolerate their abuses.”
What steps do you take if/when you discover a player has misused a child avatar? “Investigation to ensure that the accusation is true, logs and pictures required. If the person is indeed misusing the privilege to be a child here they will be removed from all groups and forced to start over. If the offense is major they will be banned and reported to LL.”
How many children exist in the role-play at this time and how do they benefit the story-lines going on in play currently? “We currently have six children playing on a regular basis in Gaela. War, a half demon/half elf, he’s the mecha owner and worker until an adult can be found to take over and also the adopted son to the local baker. He is also my character. There is Zephyros, war’s boyfriend and runner for the local newspaper. He is played by an admin named Anil. Arabre, a young half celestial/half fae healer that works in the hospital alongside our local doctor. Scritch a mute fae vinedog that scares people in the forest. A young Victorian human lord that has no parents and Tae, a kitsune that runs and haunts the local dojo in the mountains. They all play their parts and enjoy the time they have.”
How are OOC disagreements handled? What about Metagaming? “Most often it will be dealt with swiftly by an admin that is available in a manner fitting the situation. It is usually solved by discussion. More complicated troubles will be discussed among all admins and a decision reached through a vote. Metagaming is a three strike system. A player accused of it will first be warned. The second time they will be watched closely for repeat offenses and logs will be required from the accuser. The accused will be informed they were accused of the act but nothing more. The final time they will be banned from the sim for one week. If this continues, the player will become permanently banned.”
There are many sims to pick from to role play on Second Life, why should our readers pick yours? “I make no claim that we are the best out there. All I can say is that we are new but we have seasoned role-players that wish to share with the rest of the people. We came up with an idea that I have found is a very rare, if not ever used one. Above all we are family. Every player will be seen as family and treated as such and we expect the same in return.”
Do people need to live on your sim to be considered a “citizen” of it? “No. It is appreciated that our players live here and wish to rent a shop, be it in character or out, but it is not required. The only thing you have to give to be a citizen is time. Be here and let us see you.”
Any future projects for the sim? “We are in the process of improvements to create a more welcoming environment that better helps our players feel at home. The biggest build projects currently in the works are the dojo (idea given by Takari Kagamine (shinta1217)), a greenhouse, and a stronghold. The city itself is also under some revision and we are looking for anyone willing to do some artwork for the four spirits who formed Gaela. We are nearly done with a project for crystals for the four sleeping spirits hidden around Gaela. The crystals were done by Black Rose Gurbux (daniellepoole1).”
How can players become more involved in helping out to keep things running smoothly? “The simple answer is always … donations, but players are most often asked to just bring friends. We also encourage taking a job as a shop owner, becoming a leader or other tasks or roles around the sim that they might enjoy. If something is needed that we can’t do on our own, a notice will be sent out, or people will be asked via IMs.”
Do you have any specific character or administrative roles that need filling right now? “Mentor positions are always open. Anyone looking to become an admin, needs to accept a job, be it advertising recruiting or building items for the sim. Most of the shops and main hubs on the sim are still open for owners and those shops currently run by my characters are open for negotiation. The police chief is also open for negotiation, however, it is expected that this be a light-aligned character, as the police station is the light faction headquarters.”
Is there anything you wish to add, that I haven’t already asked? Anything in particular you want our readers to know about? “Any ideas for improvements to making the sim feel more like home and to our theme are appreciated; with the exception of serious sim remodeling, as that takes quite a bit of time.”