Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ranchan Weidman and the Robotech Roleplay

By Bixyl Shuftan

High above the HV Community sim is a space carrier which Ranchan Weidman made her home in Second Life, and the hangout of many of her friends. The carrier, and a few other places high above the sim, are the settings for a Robotech Roleplay. The roleplay is not a new one, but has been going on for close to a decade, since 2008. The game has players from both the early days, and some more recent ones. It is not a "combat rolepay" like New Bastogne, but instead the various settings help put the players in the mood, as well as the uniforms the players often wear. The game is played out much like a real life roleplaying game, with Ranchan acting as the gamemaster and the players various characters helping to defend Earth, Ranchan occasionally calling on the players to make dice rolls when making an action or responding to one.

"For the last nine years, players have participated in my blended version of Robotech / Albedo," Ranchan told me, "It's a Sci-fi space drama which incorporates a large part of the history of the original Robotech Universe mixed with The Albedo Universe. The players have enjoyed a mix of settings within the theme of Science Fiction /Fantasy from being in space, to the cold of Alaska and down in the nice islands of Hawaii."

Although the game is often called "Robotech" out of convenience, the title Ranchan gave it is "Robotech: The Albedo Alliance." For those who don't know, "Robotech" is the American version of Japanese anime TV shows and movies in which human pilots fly space fighters that can fold into robots in combat against giant aliens called Zentraedi, whom are a warrior culture that finds a number of aspects of human society, such as music and love, hard to understand and sometimes frightening. "Albedo" is a less well-known science fiction tale, Ranchan stating, "Albedo is the shortened version of Albedo : Anthropomorphics. Artist Steven A Gallacci Art Featured here , and here , in where he created a universe of anthropomorphic animals in a slightly futuristic setting but dealing with an in depth look of political , social and military values ideals and repercussions. I would highly recommend reading the story. It's well written and thought through."

The plot of the roleplay's story universe diverged from that of cannon Robotech from the very start, "There are lots of things I remember, and I fondly remember how things got started for this roleplay. One of the things I stress to any new player, and as of late, older ones, I will not be following the cannon story line of Robotech. The story itself opened up with a bit of background history for the universe I was going to create, and the players were going to live in and help shape. ... Robotech fans ... would recall the day the SDF 1 crashed onto Earth. And that's about as much original cannon material I relied on to start with. Everything after that point is unique to the universe. When the SDF-1 crashed, it opened a tear in the space - time continuum . This space - time tear, pulled a cruise ship from the Albedo Universe, over, thus forever introducing anthropomorphics to humans

"From there, after 10 years of strife and working together. we introduce the players characters to the world. This being abbreviated from what the players actually read in the note card. But when it first started, our players were just arriving at boot camp, at an island nearby Macross Island. The SDF was three months out of being completed, when our first set of players started their training. The first set of trainees were, Miya Cross, Nydia Tungsten, L'sai Aeon, Icebolt Aeon, Umbra Gardenvale, Tanya Ayoob, Kit Repine, and Squick. "

Besides the plotlines of the roleplay, what's been going on with the place it's been held is a story in itself, Ranchan explaining, "Things were slow at first for the roleplay as I was still holding my own, running Club Afterburner, putting together the military training base the trainees were studying at and building a 100 m diameter labyrinth under the RDF CVN Aegwei I for a treasure hunt. It was only after Linden Lab changed the rules on void sims, changing them to Homesteads, and bumping up the cost that we had to abandon Pacific Waters and took up residence on Sunweaver Air, which later became HV Community sim, and not having the duties of the club things started to pace faster for the role play. The void sim offered the size of a full sim but a quarter of the prims , script allowance and avatars that could be on it. After moving over from there. we were squished into roughly less than a quarter size sim. I had to trim down further when my real life situation drastically changed and I couldn't support the parcels I had. so we became pretty small in size. It was around that time that we moved from the northeast corner of HV community to where we are now, about center east to just off center of the sim that I dedicated some of the land to a worthwhile cause.

"I've built at least 20 versions of the ARMD platform to fit each parcel. We're currently on a decent sized parcel, about 108m by 64. maybe 80 meters. ... My builders that have helped me with some of the zones. really deserve a good portion of the credit too. A special thanks to them 'cause my landscaping skills suck compared to building things .Kinya Resident and Matoazma 'Mato Foxy.' "

I asked about the ship's many different versions over time. Ranchan answered, "Four of the versions were for prim (and) land size. Everything else was overhaul. Like spring cleaning, only more frequent."

I asked about how often does the roleplay have sessions, asking if it had one a week. Ranchan answered, "We've started to do two. One of our long time members schedule at work changed and the goal was to include her more so a second day had been brought in. Been running a second day for over eight months now. The eventual goal is to have something going each day, with some parts being live interactions, as if you and I were walking through the hallways, and stopped to have a chat, then moved past that, one heads to a different location, while say I headed to the bridge of the ship etc. But that's going to require a bit more game assistants staff, and a lot more players."

I asked about the various plots over time. Ranchan answered, "Every player has a sub plot that they are involved with some how. Sometimes the sub plots become larger side plots and main plots as because of not strictly following the main story, but the players following an untold story of the combined universe has allowed for a lot of flexibility. A lot of 'who cares what Rick Hunter did, or Toki did, but what Nydia Tungsten did, or Miya Cross has done. Mato's achievements, and what our new players Christine ( played by Skylark 'Snowy' ) and Puella ( played by Kiwi ) are doing.' Unfortunately, with time and how it is (with) Second Life, for some players real life has stolen their time, not letting them come on and participate. Tanya Ayoob, our ship 'Gunbunny' Special Forces specialist hasn't been on in at least a few years."

"For me, I dwell in an abyss of plots and sub plots. I love to end sessions at times, with cliffhangers. A sample set of plots that I believe the players have enjoyed are as follows. One adventure led the players to take part in a ball at a ski lodge in Alaska. They had to detour an assassin plot against one of the delegates which were attending a meeting being held there. That one turned into a ski chase down hill. Another one took place at a roller rink. the players were going in to rescue the squadron commander, Shelly 'Kit' Sintol. She had been abducted while on vacation by a former friend of Umbra Gardenvale, who was leading an anti military group. One of the first plots during the training phase was surviving the wilderness after being shot down on a routine helo repelling lesson."

Asking more about the ski chase, Ranchan described, "After the team uncovered who the assassins were, some of the group that were involved attempted to get away from the players. One of them had managed to get onto a pair of skis and were rushing away down a non trail path. But they were captured still in the end. After the three sessions of the players arriving at the base in Alaska, they headed to a hotel, individually, although there were some that arrived in pairs. got dressed up for the night at the lodge, and eventually made it to attendance of the party they were able to uncover the who and neutralize the threats fairly swiftly. Although the one that got away on skis did make it down hill to a set of private cabins which was where he was taken down as well. that part only took one session to wrap up. I had built a small small not to scale model of the lodge up in the mountain, and a few of the cabins down below. After that, is when Mato started to take part as well."

The current plot  involves the team having been assigned their own ship, of which Matoazma captains, but Ranchan couldn't go too much in detail of the subplots, "Those are still in the progress of rolling out."

Of the roleplay's future, Ranchan told me, "Well, I would love to add more players, and bump some current players to staff that still play so that eventually this can be a more interactive roleplay with bells and whistles and running 24/7, and I hope that I can continue providing material for the players so they don't get bored."

"I would love to thank all of my players, past, present, and hopefully future for taking part in helping to shape the history of the universe that I started. Every one's contribution with their character into the story lines means a great deal to me. I enjoy watching players relax, characters develop and mature and hope that they have enjoyed it as much as I have, and continue to do."

The Newser may do articles in the future about the roleplay, such as in depth articles about the players and their characters.

Bixyl Shuftan

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