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Tib’s Corner – Interview with Elena Vasilescu, Creator of “Before The Mast” #BeforeTheMast

pirate__1221836287_8352Yo ho ho Ongoing Worlds! Tib here with a special interview! Note that this one is actually TC’s first out of site interview. This week I interviewed Elena Vasilescu, creator of the notable RP game, Before The Mast. The game, Before The Mast is an 18th century naval themed play by post forum game opened on August 6th, 2010. The game has been running for more the two years, and just like us the players in the game have just entered their New Year. So let’s get this interview started and delve into the world of swashbuckling shall we?

1. Explain to the people who don’t know your game, what exactly Before The Mast is.

“Before the Mast” is a historical fiction play-by-post forum based roleplaying game opened on 6-th of August 2010, on an invisionfree forum, and moved, 40 months of writing later and 12 months in the story time to another free server host, jcink, for the second year in our story – because yes, we are writing a coherent, continuous pirate-themed story.
We started the story in January 1719, in the West Indies, during the War of the Quadruple Alliance. We have ships of four allegiances and islands to anchor our ships in their bays.

Besides the political turmoil which leads the colonies at each other’s throats, pirates and privateers have been on the prowl. After lots of adventures, intrigues, betrayals, fights and other side-stories, now it’s January 1720. Peace is to be signed soon, and the former enemies will get allied against the common enemy – pirates, looting indiscriminately. If our pirate crew is meant to survive or not, it is up to the members. Their imagination does influence the story.

2. What exactly inspired Before The Mast?

I might say that the swashbuckling adventures written by Raphael Sabattini, Alexandre Dumas, Paul Feval, Walter Scott, Daniel Defoe, Jacqueline de Monsigny and some others, including certain movies (“Surcouf le corsaire”, “Sandokan” series and “The Black Corsair” with Kabir Bedi among them).
But my fascination for the Age of Sail lasts since I was 5 and my mother was reading to me a newly appeared novel of a Romanian writer, as I am from Romania. That novel, whose title might be translated somehow as “Hoist the sails!” was about a goelette arriving to the Cape Horn and Tierra del Fuego following Darwin’s “Beagle”expedition in the 1880s.

At the same time, every member brought something new, original, so the story belongs to all of us and has got various inspiration sources. Some are more familiar with Hornblower series, with Sharpe or Aubrey – Maturin series. Others, with Hollywood movies.

3. Did you anticipate your game getting this popular?

No, I didn’t in my wildest dreams.
When I woke up one morning to the site ready built during my night by my American co-administrator of then, she convinced me that, with her IT skills and with my knowledge of the Age of Sail, this site could work. I had been afraid of being an administrator (well, I had been afraid to accept being a moderator before too) exactly for the technical knowledge required, because I can’t do codes, neither graphics… But I knew and loved the Golden Age of Piracy and I knew how to write… and this was needed too. So we started building the site, bringing our characters – especially those who hadn’t got much played on that site – and thinking about our story…Writing the documentation, writing a few posts too, inviting the other friends who wanted to come… and on the 6-th of August 2010, we had the official opening.
Three weeks after the official opening, the college started and Raven gave up. She promised initially to return in December, but she never did. I was desperate because I had never wanted to run the site alone, and without coding and graphics skills, I was afraid I can’t keep it going. But with my stubbornness and with the help of Moru, whom I found as initially co-administrator, then she stepped down to technical moderator only (we call this cartographer), due to real life commitments not allowing her to write as much as we would have needed her characters in the story, the site is 41 months old already.

4. How long have you been writing?

I have been writing alone since first grade, in my mother tongue, and I wrote some novel-length stories starting in my early teens. I discovered RPGs in August 2009, by chance, while looking on the internet for something totally different. Since then I started writing in English more than a composition for an English language class.

5. What are your inspirations?

I think I have mentioned above the main inspirations… but, besides these basic ones, anything can inspire a scene or a story idea. A movie, a book, a piece of a lifestory I heard from an old aunt or from a friend who asked me for advice, a street scene I witnessed, a song or a dance…everything can get, through associations of ideas and through adaptation to the historical setting, into something else, useful for the story.

6. Who do you thank for getting you this far?

I thank the administrators of the first RPG I had joined in August 2009, Gabe and Ally, for having explained me patiently the specifics of writing collaboratively in this environment versus writing alone, and for trusting me, 5 months later, to appoint me a moderator of their site, despite my protests that I am anti-technicus and I can’t do it.
Then, given that the closure of their site made me decide to open mine, I thank my first co-administrator, Raven, for having built the site, and for my present cartographer, Moru (actually, technical support), without whom I would have blown up the site a few times. (Yes, Antitechnicus again).
I also thank all my present and past members, helpers and some fans who have never joined, but with whom I can discuss about the site and I can receive objective opinions.

7. Do you have any plans you’re willing to discuss about the future of Before The Mast?

Well, the year 1720 has just started. We are planning a mutiny on the French Navy ship, a nearly suicidal mission for the British Navy one, the pirates will try, as usually, to survive the traps, and the privateers aren’t always helping the Navy, if the Navy doesn’t help them too… The upcoming adventures will receive substantial contributions from all the writers, existing and to be, so… nothing is written in stone yet.

8. Do you have anything you want to say to influence some new writers or writers in general?

Do your research… and don’t give up writing when others don’t understand you or even berate you for writing!

Well there you have it folks! I want to thank Elena for taking the time out of here schedule to be interviewed for this. If you’re interested in here game check out the site: Before The Mast Roleplaying Board.

Alright well thank you too Ongoing Worlds. This interview was #BeforeTheMast and be sure to follow me @TiberiusStudios on twitter. And as you can see I’ve gone more into formatting so yay! Alright as usual, Keep Calm and Keep Ongoing! Tib Out!

  • Expanding horizons. Good plan.

  • Lillian

    Loved this. I actually really love the last bit too about not giving up even when people berate you. I’m currently playing a Shaolin monk there. How do you ask? I did lots of homework. Lots of research made it possible, and if you put your mind to it than anything is possible.

    Great read! Come play with us!