Saturday, August 29, 2015

RPGaDay 2015: Day Twenty Nine

Favorite RPG blog/website

Well, obviously this one, right?

Actually, I'm going to go off-script here and pay tribute not to a blog or a website, but to my first online home: the Red October BBS.

Back in 1992, if you wanted to get online, you used a modem and a land line to dial in to a bulletin board.  Despite having a career in IT now, at the time I was anything but a computer guy.  That changed when my girlfriend moved in with me and brought her IBM PC-AT, which was equipped with a modem.  The first BBS I logged onto was the legendary Illuminati Online, but after about twenty minute of looking around (and accruing long-distance charges), I couldn't figure out how to navigate it.  My next attempt was another Austin-based BBS, Red October, which Adventurer's Club Magazine said was the electronic home of Hero Games.

RO was a lot easier to make sense of.  The community was friendly and operated by rules of civility I now realize were hardly the norm.  Of course, the best thing was the line-up of regular posters: a veritable cornucopia of Hero writers, editors, and high-profile fans:  Aaron Allston, Allen Varney, Scott Bennie, Bruce Harlick, Wayne Shaw, even occasional visits by George MacDonald.  Later on, such luminaries as Sean Patrick Fannon, Steve Long, Steve Kenson, and Mark Arsenault became regulars.

Did I mention this was a friendly community?  I really can't stress that enough.  Folks were happy to discuss rules minutia, campaign ideas, and just shoot the breeze.  In order to keep my phone bill from killing me, I learned to use Silly Little Mail Reader and PKZIP/UNZIP to log in, grab my mail, and access it offline.  With that sense of accomplishment, I began my first forays into using word processing and spreadsheet software.  Those skills snowballed into greater knowledge and are directly responsible for my career.

But mostly, it was about talking games, particularly HERO Games. It saw the earliest "publication" of Scott Bennie's Gestalt Earth setting.  It hosted an early Fantasy Hero version of Sean Patrick Fannon's Shaintar. It was just the best community for me to find.  There are connections and friendships I made there almost 25 years ago that remain to this day.

Of course, it couldn't survive.  AOL succeed RO as the home of the online community, and AOL was surpassed by mailing lists and dedicated web forae.  I've been a part of each incarnation along the way, but none quite match Red October.

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