OngoingWorlds blog

News & articles about play-by-post games, for roleplayers & writers


Blue Dwarf is 15!

This article was written by Andy Longman from Blue Dwarf.


7,884,000 minutes
131490 hours
5475 days
15 years.

All of these are big numbers. And all of these tell us exactly how long the Blue Dwarf sim has been running.

From it’s first ever story post on 23rd April 2000, to today people have been continually contributing to the ongoing saga.
It’s a phenomenal achievement for a play-by-post RPG. I for one have never worked in one place for that long. I’ve not been with my wife for that length of time and not even my old heap of a car is that old.

To celebrate I’ve asked some of Blue Dwarfs members, past and present to talk a little bit about their favourite memories of the last decade and a half.

First up, Tim Sireno, who’s played 6 foot 1 hamster White Wolf since the very beginning!

“Some of my favorite memories of the BD comes from my being delightfully surprised (particularly when I was moderator for a time) when I (as some players have later mentioned is practically a trademark of mine) went and planted a simple idea or two in a post or a behind the scenes discussion and then purposely sat back and let go of control of that idea to watch others run with their ‘creativity ball’ so to speak.

Yes admittedly, this occasionally lead to tons of flops (Just ask Becca about that whole the World of Cendri crossover thing…), but every now and then, other people went some amazing places with that initial spark of an idea which I had never intended or had even imagined in a couple of cases. 🙂

For example, I remember in a long chat (Icq probably) where Dave was asking me for some ideas for some upcoming BD plots, specifically a new enemy that he could use for some graphics of ships that he wanted to make (and dovetail with a school project of his, If I recall rightly), and I mentioned to him about how in one of the Fantasy RPG’s I GM’d had a set of adventures built around an insect race called the Hymenoptera. From there, we kicked around a few ideas of how the general framework of how they would be like and all that, because I remember explaining to Dave several items, like how the insect Hive mentality worked in the adventures I gm’d and how I ran a few adventures in my ‘Star corps’ Sci fi military campaign which I set up around some ideas I got from the movie “Aliens” and wanting to do a sort of crossover from the “Starship Troopers” game/book by having the players come across a bug homeworld and how they’d deal with such a discovery.

For another example, I remember planting the kernel for the idea in some of my posts about Phil’s inventions being sort of unreliable as a short joke/laugh. Which to my surprise, it quickly became ungoing running gag.

And another good one that I fondly remember, is putting together with A J Trook (during multitudes of back & forth emails and several hour long chats) various Time Travel related storyline ideas we got from “TimeCop” and Time Crime sci fi movies which (somehow) eventually got morphed into the STCP, another long ongoing story arc that players played out on the BD. Plus working with Andy Bowers on several odd security related story arcs that apparently made being a member in the BD security sort of popular for a short time. 🙂

Those are the one’s that really stick out in my memory the most out of many, many idea’s that got released into the wild.

The other thrill and thing that I enjoy the most about the BD is actually having White Wolf lovingly accepted by the other players *AND* getting a chance to pull off such a zany character as him in another RPG that wasn’t the original game where I started role playing a six foot, one inch hamster! (Now that ones a long story, the short explanation is – one of my fighters got permanently polymorphed for insulting an evil magic user in a Advanced Dungeons and Dragons game, but rather than roll up a new character I simply kept on playing him with humorous results.) And now I occasionally run into fan’s and have since gotten to play “the White Wolf character” in other RPG’s because of what they read either on the BD or other games where he’s had a few guest appearances in (either by me or by a few other players who wrote him in as a joke or cute homage). In a sense, becoming a sort of ‘celebrity’ where I’ve even been asked to DM for total strangers & occasionally get invited to game with famous people like Dave Arneson (designer & writer for D&D’s/TSR’s Blackmoor) – so I can honesty say that I wasn’t expecting that kind of a reception at all… O.o”

Tim’s right. Collaboration like he describes really is the glue that holds the game together, the way the evolution and development of Hymenoptera, and the STCP arising from casual instant messenger chats into – at different times major antagonists and plot devices throughout the years.

Our creator, David Ball who most famously played the pompous Ambassador to the Queen of England, Seymour Niple (It’s Nee-PLAY!) mentions our insecty nemesis too…

“I remember the first time we ever mentioned the Hymenoptera. I had in my head that I wanted to introduce a giant insect type alien, and found the word Hymenoptera in an encyclopedia (wow it must have been a long time ago – do non-online versions of those even exist anymore?). So we were on a planet, I think it was actually Ffion, Efof’s home planet, which was a desolate wasteland. I wrote the tineiest of hints about there being some monsterous insect creeping around, and luckily everyone else was on the same mindset, and soon someone else wrote about our very first Hymenoptera encounter.

Then we found their spaceship and it somehow exploded in the centre of the planet, causing it to explode. Can’t remember why.

I think we rescued Efof from a derelict spacestation orbiting the planet, he’d been in stasis for something like a 600 years.“

Dave also talks about a less prominent, but no less sinister enemy the crew have faced over the years;

“One of my vivid memories of moments in Blue Dwarf was a final showdown with the Devil on a Christmas eve. I’m not sure why Satan himself was onboard, it could have been related to the plot where all hallucinations became reality (which really brought out the creativity in everyone!). In the final showdown with the giant horned beast, he was disintegrated into particles of soft fluffy ash which rained down all over the Promenade like snow. Posted on Christmas eve it gave such a nice visual image at the time!”

Ok, so it wasn’t Satan himself but a GELF who had been created in an experiment gone wrong. He had an appearance similar to biblical descriptions of Lucifer himself, and telekinetic powers which made him immensely powerful. Pure evil, he was banished to the centre of the universe where he began raising the dead, as you do.

Of course, our heroes were on hand to stop him.

Incidentally, Satan isn’t the only folkloric creature we’ve faced. Once we met the easter bunny. (Jay hid his discomfort well)
Of course, it’s not only veterans who have fond memories, as John Garcia, who plays Jaxx a genetically engineered half-man, half shark trained killer turned pacifist surfer dude tells us;

“1) The VR mission where we went from the messed up magic world the candy cart world to the hero world. I am very partial to the part where we were all racing candy go carts and saving the world. It was a blast seeing everyone’s input on that mission.

2) The mission where we went time jumping and ended up in Vegas and Jaxx and Eve got married. I liked being able to see how despite the odd situations we were all in we still managed to survive Vegas. Seeing everyone cut loose and having fun was very amusing.

3) The mission where we visited Fernando’s for the second time. It was nostalgic and creative.”

And isn’t all of that really why we do this? Fun, which leads me nicely onto the favourite memory of ex-moderator Becca Tordoff, who played nurse Tara Cleavage-Febuggure, a sweet woman with a meanstreak, twin Gelf children who recently returned as holographic maniac…;

“Hallucinogenic Big Pink Trees are in there… Most certainly… “

A creation of a virus which made characters hallucinations real, the big pink tree stuck around after all was cured and became a member of the medical team.

Well, he couldn’t work anywhere else could he? Only the medical team could understand his rustling (Of course…)

A lot of my personal favourite moments involve my character Jays’ best friend, and Tara’s husband Phil FeBuggure. Phil was a human, who died, returned as a hologram before being cloned with super powers on Thursdays and thinks he’s Satan when drunk who was once stuck in an eternal timeloop and owns a time fridge and…oh Christ I don’t even know…

Chris Kentlea who plays him shared his favourites;

“1 – Phil first adventure with the BD crew and the giant mutant chicken nugget
2 – The “birth”/creation of Mini Phil
3 – The reason why Phil has such a phobia of Barney the purple dinosaur”

The funny thing is, these aren’t even Phil’s weirdest moments…

Mike “Xanadu” Mooney, who for the last few years has played mad scientist-turned brain in a jar Artemis had this to say;

“I stumbled upon Blue Dwarf by accident, trying to find the latest season of Red Dwarf online (seeing as they’re not syndicated in Florida, I’m on my own once Netflix’s RD collection runs out), thanks to a well placed article on the Red Dwarf wiki. I was coming out of some really bad PBP games from off site and really wasn’t expecting much. Oh, how wrong I was. I joined looking for something to burn spare time in College, what I got was two years of outstanding roleplaying with some of the most creative writers I’ve ever met.

I started off with a stereotypical insane super-scientist, with a pretty detailed backstory, the immaculate Dr. Artemis K. Pritchard VI. Originally, I didn’t do very well, clashing with some of the other members, but over time I began to click (or clique, however that’s spelled) with the others and had a blast. My favorite storyline happened not too long after I first joined, and it had us all playing around in a virtual reality machine trying to save the ship’s computer Holly. We started off in a dungeons and dragons sim which had us playing opposites of our characters (I think Artemis was a painter, much to his chagrin). Then it evolved into a sort of sugar-rush racing game (think Wreck-It ralph)…then it descended into utter madness as the computer systems started messing up. I have to say that, however, that getting to play out a storyline that had Artemis squaring off against his nemesis (former BFF) and his pseudo-daughter was pretty cool, especially the final battle that had Jay Chrysler and Artemis fighting a giant hyper-adaptive robot. Artie ended up getting mortally wounded, leading to his current form as a brain tank robot, which allowed him to ‘mate’ with his robot wife, a few weeks later, skuttlings! Going from walking stereotype to super-scientist family man was a hell of a ride, and I’m glad that I got to share it with such awesome people. I’m looking forward to the strange crap we’re gonna go through in the future!”

Brogan; who’s played old man Plisken, a mysterious man with a dark history as well as our recent arrival from a parallel universe Dr Ransom had this to say about how he found Blue Dwarf in the first place;

“It was by chance, a whim that swept through a melancholic teenager’s mind as he sat alone in a library, that led me to Blue Dwarf over 2 years ago and had I not found the little gem hidden away in the Google results as I randomly searched for Red Dwarf RPGs, I may not have been able to become the person I am now. To many people, it is simply a game. Characters, stories, writing and everything, and perhaps would mean little to them even if they did play it. But to me, the game has helped me in everyway with everything. Sure, I could have written a diary or journal to vent the emotions that build within you but Blue Dwarf not only allowed me to do it in a creative way, a way set against the backdrop of amazing people, characters, and people, but in a way that would be shared with other people. It didn’t matter that they didn’t know what I was meaning under the layers of the sometimes overly dramatically poetic storylines, it didn’t matter that they might not even have cared if they did. But Blue Dwarf, and Ongoing Worlds, allowed me to create worlds I could escape to, characters I could pretend to be, and stories I could use to express myself. And for that, I will forever be glad that I sat alone in that library those years ago.”

He also remembered these brilliant moments from the game;

“VR Game – With the Dwarfers trapped within a virtual reality game, their entire world became this mishmash of a myriad of different games and franchises. Our characters morphed from the ridiculously useless D&D classes, like Plisken the Madame, to tiny, childlike Go-Kart racers with sickly sweet names, Lil’ Plisky Bakewell, before finally ascending to power beyond measure as we charged into the final battle, Plisken the White going head to head with his own demons. We faced dungeons, evil forests, great battlefields, trolls, demons, and orcs, Reapers, Space Marines, and a game destroying failsafe.

Thomas Plisken – It might be a bit egotistical to choose my own character as something that has stood out in my 3ish years of a 15 year long game, but Plisken has been a big part of not only the game but my life. A character steeped in a convoluted, contradictory, nonsensical, and slightly silly backstory, Plisken suffered from my ever changing mind on what kind of character he was. He might have started out as a security guard is his late 20s, but by the time he had finally been ‘killed’ (no-one dies in science fiction), he had become an ancient, genetically created warrior hunted by his creators. Does it make sense? No, not really, but I’ve learned a lot about writing and character creation through the constant trial and error with Plisken.”

Honestly Brogan, I think anyone who doesn’t consider their own character worth remembering hasn’t been doing it right..

Lastly he tells us;

“Locke – If there is anyone in my time at Blue Dwarf that has been more committed and keen to push the story onwards, it would be Locke. I can recall reading an article about ‘rainmakers’ on the OW Blog, a term for players and mods who create drama and action when the game lulls. And that perfectly describes Locke. When there are times that the game begins to slow and posts become less frequent over the month, Locke kicks us all back into action with posts and plot hooks for our characters to get into and inspiration for us to get going. While not wanting to devalue the work of the other moderators, I can say that Locke has been the Generalissimo of Blue Dwarf for a good while now, and has been an integral part of the game.”

Well deserved praise indeed. (Not that I’m jealous or anything).

Speaking of the grumpy northerner, Locke, who memorably brought to life cynical, robotics genius (who also happened to be a stripper) Cassandra Jones remembers the following most fondly;

“Choosing just three things is really tough. Highlights for me include:

The Dwarf crash landing in Robin Hood’s Nottingham forest in the 12th Century – must have been a nightmare for the mods, but it was the first story I wrote in and all the more memorable for it

Jay’s swan song – the events leading up to the final destruction of the Hymenoptera and, ultimately, his “death” – there wasn’t a dry eye in the house at the funeral

The cadmium disaster – the characters re-exploring the ship after emerging from 3,000,000 years of stasis, was a really great, creative and productive period in the game

Character-wise, I always thought that Seymour was fun to write for; an effete, wine swilling snob with all the spine of a jellyfish – what’s not to like? – he’s a top character that we could well do with seeing back with us

I always quite liked Keto as well, although he was a little before my time – and Jay, of course, always stood out – he’s the action hero who can achieve the impossible, but at that same time, his failings, feelings and insecurities, make him very human”

Too kind Mr Locke.

As for me?

Well, yes, it sounds selfish to say but writing emotional plots like Jay’s death, or Jay’s farewell to Katrina and Max come very high in my list. If I can invoke an emotion in the reader, I’m happy.

Character wise, Dr’s Cerebrum and Keto’s relationship was one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever read. Two bitter enemies, with a very petulant outlook toward each other who, given the opportunity to be friends could conquer the universe…(Death Jar anyone?)

But number one?

Every single person who’s contributed to the ongoing story over the years. We couldn’t have lasted 15 years without you. Thank you all, for 15 incredible years.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll still be here in another 15 writing posts on our mind control computers while our robot flying cars take us home from work…

This article was written by Andy Longman from Blue Dwarf. You can also read Andy get interviewed by Tib.