Things You Can Find On The Internet

Back in the early 1991, I was a sophomore in college. I’d finally gotten a PC (we called them “clones” in those days) the year before, but I still had my Commodore 64 hooked up on the desk beside the PC, and I still hung out on C64 Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes). One, called the City of WISE (Waukesha Information System Exchange, as I recollect), I called every night (because in those days, you had to dial up with your modem to connect to a bulletin board system, and you often had to call late at night when you wouldn’t tie up the phone). I ran a trivia message board, and I even started a message board for a Call of Cthulhu game.

Someone else was going to run some sort of roleplaying game on a message board, and I signed up. But that gamemaster never showed. Instead, one of the other users (Brass Orchid, handle derived from a Samuel R. Delany book I still haven’t read) and I started riffing absurdly, playing somewhat to roleplaying game conventions. Eventually, Brass Orchid collected these messages and sent me a copy on disk to see if we could make some sort of story out of it.

Fast forward fifteen years to the present day, and I’m browsing, a repository of text files from that era, and I get to thinking about The Forgotten Legacy (as the message board was called, undoubtedly some grand sweeping sword-and-sorcery campaign that we subverted to our own ends). So I Google Brass Orchid by his real name, and lo, there it is, on his Web site:

    12/21/91; 12:43PM
    From: Brass Orchid [3]
    We could always play without him. All the GM 
    does is provide structure and coherence to the game.
    12/21/91; 10:39PM
    From: L. S. Creetor [62]
    I'll take my bastard sword and stab the Ultimate 
    Reality in the gut.
    12/22/91; 5:08AM
    From: Brass Orchid [3]
    The Ultimate Reality suffers 120 HP's damage and 
    falls, semiconcious, to the ground, muttering, "That
    Bastard sure knows how to hurt a guy."
    L. S. Creetor collects 20 Exp. Points and finds
    the Medallion of Adaptation.
    Suddenly, the sky splits open and a stairway to
    the stars appears. Branches off of the main stairway can
    be seen, dwindling into the distance.
    Your move...

Suddenly, I’m nineteen years old again, connecting through LotusWorks, and casting spells I made up on the fly. I can see the wood paneling and smell the light must of my basement room, I can feel the keyboard in my lap (because that’s all we had for ergonomics, you damn kids–you could put your keyboard in your lap), and I played late into the night with my short stories, with my bulletin boards, and with simple games without 3D rendering. I had most of college and all of my life ahead of me, and I was as optimistic as a college Objectivist could be.

Crazy, the things you can find on the Internet. I am of the first generation that can find its youth.

UPDATE: Revised a sentence to make clear I looked for Brass Orchid elsewhere but

2 thoughts on “Things You Can Find On The Internet

  1. OMG I LOVED the BBS’s.. I was reluctant to give them up and move to the internet, but they were dying at an alarming rate. It was conform or be unconnected completely. I used to play a game that was present on all of them, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called, something Dragon maybe? Now you’ve got me curious.

  2. Brian, you mention that your computer was in the basement. As I recall, *everyone’s* computer was hidden in the basement, out-of-sight. I spent much of my childhood playing Zork (and other Infocom games) in the dark…

    I find it interesting that computers started making their way upstairs in the mid-90s. How did the rise of the Internet make it acceptable to have computers on the main living floor?

    Btw, L. S. Creetor is almost as funny as Hiro Protagonist.

    just d – I remember seeing the game “Legend of the Red Dragon” back in the day…

Comments are closed.