I have for the past couple of weeks been searching the web and other forums for some of the old stories involving the Cult of Charnadis. For those of you who may not have been around back then, this was a storyline contrived by one of the most talented role players and writers I have had the privilege to meet. In game, he was known as Adammair Walker, or Jack Jones from the Saints and Spirits. He, along with his lady friend Alraune or Galena from Saints and spirits could weave a tale that kept you spellbound. The cult revolved around a demon named Charnadis who had at one times been shattered into many small shards that rained down on the wild life and people within the woods of Yew. Books were dropped, and those who read them, and chose to were effected, or perhaps infected and started to kill animals and people within the area in an effort to recover bits and pieces of Charnadis. Followers could then create new cult members by scratching, or carving the name of the demon in the victims skin. Then in their turn they would start to kill and gather fragments of the demon. A time would come when the cultist higher up the ladder would start to compete for the right to host Charnadis within their bodies. They would kill others of their own cult in order to claim these bits of the demon within them. It was a remarkable plot, which in all truth I have forgotten much of. When the books were gathered and destroyed, Aedon hid a copy and maintained it till this day. Though right now Dramora is "taking care of it." for him. In my search for information I came across many stories written years back by members of the community. One of my searches took me to the forums of the Honor Empire. (PGOH) and on these pages I came across the following essay dated 2006. It was simply labeled What Role Players Have forgotten. Posted 13 January 2006 - 09:14 AM My name is not well-known in this community, and my characters have interacted with but a fraction of those of you who read this board. However, my relations, both in and out of game, have affected you all in one way or another over the years, and my own experience is sufficient to lend me credence. I, as most of you, consider myself a role-player. I may not attend tavern nights more than once per month, nor have I waged war against the Cult of Charnadis, the horde of the Undead, or taken sides in any of the various inter-guild squabbles, yet I have been a long-time observer. I have had my often-subtle hand in most of the recent plot lines, time permitting. My interest and activity in role-play stretch beyond the bounds of Ultima Online, but I always spare a little time for this, the game which I believe best lends itself to the institution. That last point is the one which brings me here today. I have growing concerns regarding the state of role-play within Ultima Online. The years since UO:R have not been kind to our community; time and again, we have lost ground, even as we gained content. The addition of Trammel saw the near-death of free interaction. The introduction of Age of Shadows, while bringing us the long-awaited and often-requested art of Necromancy, brought along with it a flood of immature and often rude players who continue to disrupt public activity to this day. The finding of Tokuno, and the resultant rise of the Ninja, certainly didn't help that. (Add an official Pirate class, and I'm sure we'll be beyond repair.) Item-based play has removed the need for real skill and made many of us, myself included, either weak and complacent or fearful of our next step lest we die to a two-hit ambush. In the face of all this, I would have hoped the Rolelay community could survive -- and in some form or other, we have -- but what I see these days is a mere shadow of what we once had. It seems that we have taken Role-play from the streets and placed it in steins. Everyone has his or her own view of "what is RP," and the loudest voice of the week controls the flow of action. Plot lines are begun, and just as quickly abandoned. One thing is for sure: Leonardo DaVinci would be proud of us. We need our own Renaissance. OSI's version tore us apart. It's up to us to pull it back together. As far as I'm concerned, our central issue is that of community. We lack it. We are factioned, splintered, spread across the continents and facets. It must be admitted that, though this is classified as an MMORPG, the fourth and fifth letters of that acronym are neglected by at least 80% of the subscription base. To spread ourselves thinly and deposit ourselves in small pockets within the vastly... to borrow a phrase... "d00dish" collective, is a sure means to failure. For the most part, those who don't come into this game to RP will never be interested in RP. That's their decision, and they are more than welcome to it. We should not ostracize those who choose not to RP, but neither should we settle sporadically amongst them like Roman missionaries. We need a feeling of togetherness before we can actually embrace it. Some of you may have stopped reading at that last line, believing I'm on my way to performing an episode of UO Teletubbies, and I do apologize if I'm taking a while to get to my point. Kindly permit that this issue is too large to sum up in a few paragraphs and bear with me a short while longer. There are three basic communities within this game: Role-players, Non-Role-players, and Players. The first two both fit into the last. That is the point where we are all equal: like it or not, we all play Ultima Online. The Non-role-players, however, are on the whole stronger than we Role-players, because they have a literal definition of how it's "best" to play. There are literal, numerical, quantifiable optima for equipment, attack combinations, skill levels, stat levels... There may be arguments, but they can come to agreements on that which is "uber." We, on the other hand, are disparate members, each an actor with a style. The prima donna in each of us wants to take command and lead the way of things, but that is not the way life goes. In the end, what is Role-play but the embracing of another life... one in which not everyone can be in control. Let's face it: beyond our own characters, we cannot control the actions and reactions of other people. I cannot script another character's response. I can merely play my part and hope those around me can make something out of it. If my character chooses to have a hacking fit on your shoulder, are you going to continue your conversation across the table in the bar, or are you going to get disgusted and shove me off? Are you going to be sympathetic and get me some water, or are you going to threaten my blood for soiling your clothes? Those are your choices to make, and no one can tell you which is the better for RP. There are simple rules we can ALL agree on, and have agreed on many times over: No god-moding, no power-gaming, no omniscience among characters. Every character has a foible, every personality has a flaw, every being has an imperfection. That's life. This may be a fantasy realm, and some very fantastical, very powerful beings may inhabit it, but not one of them can be completely untouchable or there is no point. This is fine, and the rules needn't expand beyond that. Everything else is action, reaction, and justification. If you have an RP reason for your action, and it's feasible and supported by your character, then you should need no further permission to behave as you will. Another trouble these days is a lack of earnest conflict. Conflict needn't be a matter of warring guilds or attacks against this and that group. Conflict can be as simple as attempting to establish a thriving city, trying to better oneself, working to establish relations with another organization, aiding the destitute of Cove, rebuilding Trinsic. Conflict can be found everywhere, and does not require that swords be raised. We need goals, purposes... sitting around in drinking halls and watching tables rot while chatting pleasantly with a recent enemy is not conflict, unless you're trying to see how long you can sit on your stool while ethanol races through your veins. This returns me, in a way only I am likely to ever comprehend, to community. My earlier statements were not attempting to say that we should all live happily in one town. That would completely ruin the concept of conflict. We are not the Smurfs. We simply have to find better ways to localize ourselves. We need to be able to expect interaction with other Role-players without having to run amok in the fields searching for green/orange names or sitting around lifeless pubs. We should find ways to say "Yes, I have my concept of RP and, no, it doesn't agree with yours, but we're both RPing and we're both playing this game, so on with the show." Our distance is creating social rifts which have been festering for years. If we don't come to some form of agreement, even a disagreeing agreement, there won't be any community left. We will be little more than a set of Role-play guilds scattered throughout Sosaria like so much chicken pox. Furthermore, I have witnessed some very unfair treatment of certain aspiring members of the role-playing comunity. Within that majority of people who joined this game without "RP" in mind, there are some who choose to dabble in the realm of role-play, hoping to learn the ways and add their characters to our culture. These fledgeling role-players should be nurtured, assisted, welcomed. They may not be consummate actors. They may not understand all the tenets. They may let slip an "omg" or an "lol" from time to time or have odd names referencing amphibious anatomy. This does not mean they should be rejected outright. Anyone who tries to role-play is a role-player. Quality should not determine validity. I don't know how many of you will read this, and how many will follow it through to the end. I don't know how many responses I may get, and how many might be purely inflammatory. I don't even know if this post will survive long enough to get a response. I merely wanted to offer my piece of mind while there was a community left to receive it. Ever faithful to the Role-play of Catskills, Llyrwech It is a simple essay written by a person that cared deeply back then for the state of Roleplay and Catskills. I would have simply read it, smiled and moved on if not for the signature. The essay I came across and had never read before was written by my son who at the time would have been 24 at the time. I am not sure why I was so surprised at finding this writing of his, but I was. And now I have had the chance to add this work to the folder of his writing I have long kept.