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 TextFiles.com, 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 TextFiles.com.

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…

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