Wednesday, February 27, 2008


In June of 2007, Sinji Itokawa and I were asked to build the city of Arrakeen and surrounding areas for a new Dune roleplay sim. Both of us were fans of the books, so we fairly jumped at the opportunity. Things were fine and roleplay intense until mid-January 2008, when certain members began to feel their ideas were getting short shrift, and a move to "re-educate" the Fremen, the most successful faction on the sim, into easily cowed, pacifistic and hygiene aware hillbillies began to gather steam with the ruling Council. I will not go into the sad details of the sim collapse here, as the description of events would fill a small book, so I will permit the resignation letters of the three top Fremen officers to speak for now.

A lot of busted friendships over this, and there was no reason to it.

The Naib

Its become very clear to me as I read over the transcripts and the notations and arguments in this forum that too many people had too much to say.

Words....alot of words, but is there any thought to them before they put to text and the SUBMIT button is hit? Perhaps the idea formed and the flow happened but words are the basis of communication in this medium and it is vitally important that they are read and understood, but even moreso, it is of absolute rhetoric importance that they are chosen to be as communicative and clear as possible. Writing emotions, reacting, these will always result in failure to impart the idea we want and certain failure to continue the dialog thoughtfully.

Injustices, percieved insults, heavy handed dictatorial decrees, and down right insulting tones are all portrayed in the choice of words that I see from certain individuals in this forum. This is part of the reason I detest forums as a rule. Do you pay attention to the impact your choice of words can have on your reader?

So I sit now and look at the sim and think this is an amazing piece of work. So many people worked together to create a thing of beauty. Ali scripted and made it possible, Ghanie put together clothing and weapons that brought home the true feeling of being dressed for the Duniverse, Pay did her part writing background and setting up everything a beginning player would need. Jimmy and I dressed the set, making sure details were as accurate as we could make it for the players....many more had a hand in creating this sim. I think back to the Opening night party, laugh about the floor vanishing and remember with wistful pride the arrival of the worms over the shield wall and how happy everyone ``was it was all ready to go....
...Then it began and everyone forgot how to work together, how to co-operate for the common goal of enjoying what was built in a sense of purpose and community. Lines were drawn, sides were taken, people began to see themselves as rivals as they took up their mantles of leadership in their individual Houses or worse yet, one player with a vendetta was allowed to completely monopolize the attention of one side in a battle that did not exist which resulted in the course of events that has transpired leading us to this point.

Paranoia, judgementalism, outrage and tyranny. Absolute power...there is no such thing on the net...any who believe they have it do not realize they only have their own selves to tyrannize. As we see, people can just leave, and honestly, as someone said to me recently, there are too many other things (and people) on SL to do to remain doing something that is both insulting and frustrating. Read...NOT Fun.

Now I see someone who I adore is hurt and leaving because of things
that were said and done on this forum, because of a story that was derailed and edicts that were being forcefully put in place by the Powers That Be...something. I chose to leave my post as Naib some months ago to work on my own theme sim and start a collaboration with an author friend of mine that is still ongoing. I left Nareth in charge because at the time she seemed the best candidate and actually WANTED to work with stories and faction. After seeing all that she accomplished ( a 400+ page document!) and the way she built the faction up I still believe she was the best choice. Returning, because I found a need for a break from what I have been doing and thought RP would be a good choice, I came happily back to the sim and the RP which I had enjoyed the most in SL. After an initial "battle" for the rights of Fremen, because that is what it was, I was overjoyed to be working with my friend again. And then this. Am I disappointed she is leaving, yes I am, but I very clearly see her point and understand her reasoning. She left in a most agreeable way, even considering the way she was treated.

As to the point of the "attempt" to quell/control/re-educate the Fremen. There was no point. You will NEVER make pascifists of them because EVERY SINGLE new player that comes in there will be playing Stilgar and his band of Fremen Mahdists awaiting the return of the Messiah. This is the way the Fremen are, and were created. Dune is about conflict, it is about oppressed peoples and the abusive tyranny of the Landsraad. You are deluding yourself if you believe that people will remain in a neutered society that is nothing like Fremen ala F. Herbert. People come to play those dirty freedom fighters from the movies...not what you tell them to play, how you tell them to play it. I have been over all this before in previous posts. If you create Dune, they will come....if you create some pale comparison, they will leave...and if you think that you can "command" otherwise, they will leave faster.

My final thought on the subject of the Fremen re-education is an old Timelord adage that says "If its not broke, don't fix it." The Fremen were well organized, large and popular, the story was strong and progressive and it matters not where it was going, to me it was working. You broke it with your edicts and decress and threats. You hurt someone who had put so many hours into that sim I wonder how she had the time..and considering I just learned who she was, you had a professional writer with more credentials than all of us put together, awards, novels, novellas, articles...the list is seemingly endless, look it up; you had this woman working FOR you, writing FOR you, HELPING YOU run the best Dune sim in SL and maybe the best Dune RP anywhere and you metaphorically and verbally slapped her, told her she was doing it wrong, and tried to force your WAY on her or else....That is MORONIC! And I ask you why? Because her story was messianic? Because her plotline "could have" gone where it wasn't supposed to? Get a grip, any leader with any charisma can be Paul, its quite a simple feat. What you did was blame her success for your own failure to produce working Houses, you acquiesced to the whining demands of 1 or 2 players who had already proved that they were not going to actually be constructive in RP or the sim and you completely destroyed an entire Faction OUT OF CHARACTER because you couldn't IN CHARACTER. The evidence is in these forums and it is what I see. Your best asset for a constructive productive future just left over it....and what is
even more sad, she left on principle because whether Hax continues his re-education or not, you didn't get your well dressed bathed pascifistic Fremen townsfolk, Lords and got an empty Sietch. If you wonder how the next batch of Fremen you get in will the 400+ pages of Nareth's storyline, then read Dune...all of it, then settle down with your coke and a bag of popcorn and watch the fight for freedom that IS the Dune Saga and always shall be.

Yes Pay...we could fight for our rights to play Dune as Herbert envisioned it, but what would be the point? Orbital Bombardment? Comply or we close the sim?

I wish you the best, all of you, and hope that you stop reacting and start reading with your heart in the spirit of those days when the True Masters of Arrakis welcomed you all to their home.


Sinji Itokawa, (Ja'Shin), Architect and Naib of Arrakis

The Reverend Mother

Today, I cleaned all my belongings out of the sietch and am posting here to say that I am, as of this evening, officially exiting this rp. It was not an easy decision to come to, as I have, at times, truly loved this experience, and I've had some fantastic rp with several players (Jimmy, Michiko, Pay, Dru, Joylia, Myrtil, et al.). I have glimpsed what RP on SL can be, with the right players.

But, in light of the way that Jimmy and I (and the Fremen, in general) have been treated in the wake of the Pennell/Sawin affair, and in light of the way that "restructuring" and a "cultural" re-education has been forced upon our faction, and the disrespect shown the canon (I mean Frank Herbert's novel), I have concluded that I cannot, in good conscience, continue. We have been subjected to actions by the Council that were thoughtless, disrespectful, and demeaning (OOC). We have had our faction members questioned behind our backs. We have seen "canon" that effects us changed in the wiki without even the common courtesy of a heads-up before the fact. For the record, I have made no attempt to persuade anyone to leave with me, but I will honestly say that it is also true that I have not kept my feelings a secret within the faction. Some of what follows is quoted from an earlier post of mine:

I continue to maintain that our rp has been excellent, that our admin has been fair-minded, and that we have been extremely true to the true canon, which is Herbert's work. Myself, I have worked hard to bring in and train new people, to create a story arc for our faction that actually leads somewhere, and to make sure that the rules were obeyed. I long ago lost track of all the hours I've spent editing transcripts*, hoping that the transcripts would encourage better rp. I have tried to foster the growth of other factions by forging realistic IC alliances (and oppositions/conflicts) and by voluntarily closing membership to the Fremen faction for a time. I've even given the sim free publicity via my non-SL blog (though that was pretty Fremencentic, for the most part, so you'll likely dismiss it). All of this adds up to "above and beyond," and it should have earned me far more respect than I have been shown. And no, I'm not saying Jimmy and I deserved carte blanche or special privileges for our contributions. Only respect and courtesy, and that is what we have not been shown following "Sawin's" disgraceful excuse for rp and reprehensible OOC behaviour (and never mind all the crap I took off him when he called himself "Tristan Pennell"). We have been told how things will be, and told that by not agreeing to every change, we directly threaten the future of the sim. From my point of view, we have been made scapegoats for a sim that has far greater problems than bands of vengeful Fremen roaming its streets.

I will miss my part in this story, and loathe leaving Shahrazad behind. But I only have so much time for SL, and I cannot waste it where my efforts are not only not appreciated, but met with hostility.

Nareth Nishi (Shahrazad al-Anwar)

Captain of the Fedaykin

As Captain of the Fedaykin, I too am resigning.

You know, I kept hoping all through this affair that I would suddenly hear a voice from on high shouting "Never mind! Didn't mean it! Sorry! Go back to doing what you were doing!" Alas, I never did. Nerves frayed, people got hurt, and now we are where we are.

There is nothing I could say that hasn't already been said better by Sinji and Nareth. I hold no animosity toward anyone, but it seems to me that shooting oneself in the foot is not an effective way to generate quality roleplay, much less bring in much needed capital in the form of renters and buyers to the sim.

I first read Dune when I was twelve, and it has always held a special place for me, as I was easily able at that age to identify with strong protagonists and fights for freedom. Being asked to build this sim was an unexpected surprise - a gift - and the roleplaying among all the excellent players here more often than not approached the heady feeling I had when I first read the books.

At any rate, it was fun while it lasted. Good wishes to all, and take care.

Jimmy Branagh (Jayat ibn-Baz, Fedaykin Captain and Architect of Arrakeen.)