Tuesday, September 4, 2007

'Sword of the Tides' project aims to include all players

A server-wide role playing project, open to anyone's participation no matter what level or faction, began Monday on the Shadow Council forums. The organizer, who plays a gnome with mysterious motivations called “Pennydrop,” says she has written what she hopes is an adventure/mystery storyline that can be played by anyone.

The storyline began with a puzzle that was distributed on the forums for players to solve. The puzzle offered a reward for the first person to solve it, and from there, more quests and events will slowly reveal the plot behind “Sword of the Tides.”

“Basically it's your standard archetypical adventure story -- there's trouble with the seas, this mysterious Pennydrop person needs adventurers to investigate, and rewards will be offered,” the organizer said in an in-game interview.

Pennydrop says the real goal behind her project is to include everyone who wants to participate.

“Having been on ShC for a long while now, and having been involved in a lot of role-playing, feeling ‘shut out’ or excluded is one of those complaints that comes up a lot,” Pennydrop said. “And it's not always something that people do intentionally. There (are) a number of factors that can cause new and old role-players alike to feel like they're on the outside looking in…so I kind of wanted to do an event that was advertised as both ‘big’ and ‘open’ from the very beginning, and try to plan things in such a way that anyone could get involved.”

In order to involve players on a large scale, Pennydrop says, she has planned several different ways for people to interact with the story. She has assistants in both the Horde and Alliance factions. Events will take place in-world which anyone can attend. If a player’s schedule means they can’t attend an event, there are puzzles and riddles to ponder. Players may also collect virtual items in-game for Pennydrop—something that can be done alone or in a group, at the player’s leisure.

Prizes include three rare turtle mounts, which will be given away during the course of the story.

Three players have already individually solved the first clue, a coded message. The first player to solve the cipher was “Heulwen,” who could not be reached at press time. She will be given a prize. The second player was “Juliard,” who says he spent four hours on and off working to solve the cipher.

“…I've always loved codes so I gave it a shot, and once I started working on it, I couldn't stop,” Juliard said in an in-game interview. “Got more intrigued once I read the further Tides details and saw the web site.”

Juliard, who has been role-playing for about 15 years, said this type of open storyline is his favorite way to play in the world. He enjoys reacting to events and seeing how others respond in kind.

And now that the first puzzle is solved, Pennydrop says an in-game event is on its way. An announcement will be made on the forums and on the Sword of Tides web site.

“It's always good to see someone start up some open RP that people are excited about!” Juliard's player said. “And, I can't wait for the next contest, so I can win!”

Who is Pennydrop?

“Pennydrop” made her first appearance last December when she mysteriously sent out a single gold coin to many characters of both factions during “Winter Veil,” the game’s gift-giving holiday in December. Why did she do it?

According to a poll taken last winter, the majority of players don't want to know about Pennydrop's in-character motivations—they enjoyed the mystery of her identity.

“My main concern at the time was whether people would actually like to associate a face and a backstory with the Pennydrop character, or whether they preferred the mystery,” Pennydrop said in an in-game interview. “And by far, everyone liked the mystery better, so I'm really going to play that up in the Sword of the Tides story.”

Players interested in participating should send their puzzle solutions to Pennydrop, either via an in-game message, an email to pennydrop@swordoftides.com, or via a private message to Pennydrop on Roleplayer's Haven. Players can also contact her assistants, Silvia on the Alliance side or Goldstein on the Horde side.

Pennydrop thanks the server of Shadow Council. “It's because of the experiences I've had here that I'm motivated to do this; we have a wonderful RP community on both the Alliance and Horde sides of the fence,” she said.
--L. Waymire