Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Ramblings from the War, Part 1 - Fighting in the Nexus

Man, you won't believe the shit I saw in the war.

There was some really messed up stuff going on there. The demons were slaughtering everyone in their way, the angels were elitist assholes who refused to help anyone who didn't play by their rules, and the transcendents and undead were too busy fighting everyone else to help anyone out.

Some of you by now have reached for the phone and dialing the closest mental hospital you know of. The war I'm talking about didn't happen. Or at least not in real life it didn't. I'm talking about Nexus War.

Nexus War was a browser-based MMO with heavy focus on PvP. The setting was simple and imaginative - the universe is on it's dying breath and the nine Elder Powers started pulling souls from all over the place, putting them into the Nexus and sending them to fight against each other. The prize? Whichever Elder Power's forces wins the war is going to be the dominant ethos when the universe is reborn anew. The game was AP based, with movement, talking, attacking and other actions requiring certain amounts of AP (usually just 1, but some actions require more). Action Points regenerated 1 per 15 minutes, so the game kept a generally fast pace for what it was.

While the game was PvP (the few non-player run monsters running around were huge, towering colossi who required several dozen people working together to even have a chance of brining them down, plus those were introduced very late into the game's life. For the most part it was just you and everyone else) it actually awarded experience points for other things besides killing. Healing people gave you XP, so did crafting items or reading books. That allowed for vary different play-styles to work together in the same game.

Why am I talking about this game here? Because the time I spent playing Nexus War was some of the most fun and enjoyable time I've had with an online community ever. I am still not certain how this happened, but this little game about murdering the shit out of each other managed to accumulate some of the most imaginative, cultured and well behaved people in an online community I've seen so far in my life.

Characters in the game were organized into Factions, and while there were quite a few factions that were simply "Okay, well we need to be in a faction so we'll have a Stronghold, so we'll have somewhere semi-safe to leave our characters when we're not playing", there were a lot that were there around a certain theme.

To name a few, there were:
* The Ragged Philanthropists - a Good aligned faction that ran what was, essentially, a safe haven for good and neutrally aligned characters called The Ragged Fortress. It was a 3 by 3 game-squares area in St. Germaine, the default and neutrally aligned plane of the game, which had a foundry, a gun shop, a warehouse and basically all of the important building types which contained almost all basic crafting materials. The place was where their Faction Stronghold was, and the area around it was covered in barricades and protective wards against Evil characters. The faction produced almost absurd amounts of weapons, armor and ammo, which they usually just gave away to random people in their fortress. At times they would even do Gift Raids, where they go to some other faction's stronghold, brake down the protective ward, go inside and just give people all kinds of potions, weapons, ammo and other things, wish them a good day and then leave.
* Lawful Good!! - Yes, the name is always spelled with two exclamation marks. The faction's gimmick was that it was composed of D&D nerds. I will simply post the faction's introduction from their wiki page, since it says it all:

"Lawful Good!! are a Good-aligned party of adventurers, fearlessly slaying demons and other members of Evil factions in this strange place called the Nexus. Their origins are uncertain - it is possible that one of the Elder Powers, Baraas, may have intended to summon bold warriors and mages to his cause, but instead summoned a bunch of socially inept geeks who were pretending to be bold warriors, priests, rogues and mages while playing tabletop role-playing games. Over the course of time, the Nexal energies of each death and rebirth transformed the socially inept geeks into bold (but still socially inept) adventurers, regularly journeying far across the Nexus to clear out Evil dungeons full of Wandering Monsters, all the while yelling strange battle-cries such as "Roll for initiative!" and "Natural 20!" "

In fact, i recommend reading trough their entire faction page. While you probably won't get all of the references, it's still a fun and enjoyable read.

Now, while this seems like it would get old really fast, it actually didn't. The faction was filled with imaginative people, who kept up the gimmick almost constantly, managing to filter almost everything in the game trough the lenses of Dungeons and Dragons. All of the faction's raid logs were categorized and described as old D&D campaign modules, and the faction had, amongst it's members, such memorable characters as Peter Perfect (from the Wacky Races), The Brave Little Toaster (from the movie with the same name), Eleanor Roosevelt (FDR's wife) and of course 1st Level Fighter, the faction's proud munchkin leader.

* The Demons Next Door - The DND's shtick was the absolute politeness with which they handled all situation. Since the game is based around Action Points management, and talking required AP, most people would just find a character and kill them as fast as possible, so as to preserve AP. The DND found this practice to be boring and impolite, so they made sure that they said something to people they killed, even if it was just offering them some tea and cookies. Talking was actually mandatory, and slaying someone without saying even a word gave you a stern warning and, eventually, a booting out of the faction. They took politeness very seriously. Kind of like the Ragged Philanthropists above, the Demons Next Door were famous for their weird raids on other factions, in which they'd just burst in and start offering tea to everyone, chatting amongst themselves and a lot of times not even bothering to kill anyone (though most of the time they'd just slaughter everyone in the end. They're still demons). The most famous of these was a game of hide and seek they played in another faction's stronghold, which lasted for a week before the DND decided to finally leave and go back to their own stronghold.

This post will get huge if I did a full list of everyone and their great ideas, so here's some quick mentions. The Friends of English Magic, based around the famous book Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. In fact my membership in this faction is what got me to read the book in the first place. It was an all Elementalists faction, perceiving the elemental magic that the class used to be the only proper way of doing magic, keeping with the themes of the book. The Pirates of R'lyeh, who were the largest faction in the game for a long, long time. They were Evil aligned, allowed basically anyone to join (as long as they could join an evil faction, of course), their captain was Christopher Walken and they had one of the most absurd battle cries in the game - "Yarrr R'lyeh!". The Magi Anonymous where you had to be able to memorize and cast spells to be allowed membership. For a while they were one of the most feared factions in the game, due to the free access of srolls of Death Cloud, which, before the overhaul of the spells system in the game, was the most powerful AoE spell in the game. Nobody dared mess with them, since the back-swing would usually level out the attackers and several other factions that just happened to be in the area.

As you might notice, a lot of characters had some really odd names. The fact that the game was primarily text-based (input was done via buttons, but the game interacted with you by descriptions) generally gave quite a lot of freedom of people to come up with imaginative names, like the lemonade stand, who's summons were all named lemon, sugar, cup, water and so on, or the broad side of a barn, who's goal in life was to be the character hardest to hit. Connor MacLeod  and The Kurgan who ran around factionless, fighting wherever they met and making sure that one character never leveled beyond the other. The almost absurd amount of real-life people, mythological and fictional characters that also ran around the planes, meaning you could kill Margaret Thatcher and  fight with Osiris in the same day.

And while all of this was fun, enjoyable and great, as you can see on the link at the beginning of this post, the game is no longer active. In fact it closed down quite a while a go. The community, however, endured and would migrate to a different game, changing that game forever (for better or worse), before moving on once more. These stories will have to wait for a different post though, since this one has gone on long enough.

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