Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thar Be Pirates

You meet all types in Second Life. Just the other day I wandered though Builder’s Brewery looking for building tips and construction freebies and I ran into a pirate. A quick click on profile and sure enough he was from La Dominique (, a pirate role playing sim.   

I came to Second Life to role play, and there was so much to learn, the basics of the mainstream was more than enough to take on. Still occasionally I would explore. Every once in a while I would check out some RP sim (Role Playing Simulation) looking for one I would like. Some, like Erie, had greeters, but I hated being the inquisitive noob and taking up too much of their time. Most of the time I just wandered around with an observer tag on exploring the sim and trying to learn the game by watching. But there was seldom anyone about these sims to observe. Most of them were quite deserted. And now standing in front of me, in all of his swashbuckling glory, was a pirate – and probably from an active sim.

I struck up a conversation with him and got the LM (landmark teleport coordinates) from him. The next day I called my friend Theaz and after a quick change into 18th century garb, we were off exploring.

We wandered about La Dominique, a fascinatingly beautiful,

Wild and mysterious,

Fortified island

Riddled with hidden caves

And Native temples.  

There were signs of recent habitation, but the island was as forlorn and deserted as Roanoke.

Nary a living soul was about unless you count gorillas, jaguars and parrots.

“Where is everybody?” asked Theaz, before she left for day job, leaving me to explore on my own.

Where indeed?  
There was still plenty to see so I climbed up to the citadel, fired the cannon to check it range and only then did I notice the intended target. Ship were moored on the atolls across the straights. 

I checked my map and sure enough there was another glowing dot.

 I flew to towards the atoll but was forced landed when I tried to pass over the island in-between. Apparently not all pirate sims allow flight.

I watched as the captain unfurled the canvas and set sail. This ship carried 12 guns and was extremely graceful.

“You missed her,” the pelican seemed to mock me. “I can fly but you are stranded.”  

All too true. What to do? What to do? It wasn’t much of an isle here to explore.  No flight.  I could teleport back to La Dominique, or home. Too bad I didn’t have a landmark for other pirate sims. As I was contemplating what to do about my stranded status another pirate appeared.

I IM’d him a hello. “Hello, you can use local talk.” came the answer in Spanish and repeated in near coherent English by the computerized translator.  “Do you live here?” I asked. 

“I am from La Dominique,” he replied. “So how do you like?”

“It’s lovely.” But, “I am wonder what is involved in becoming a pirate.”

“You are pretty. You make good pirate”

“Thank you,” I said, “But I would think cunning and skill count for more in the pirate trade.”

A stream of untranslatable Spanish patter crossed local chat followed by “You sail, you fight.”

“I don’t know how to sail or fight, but I would like to learn.”  Again, another long stream of Spanish that amounted to, “Fight simple SDP. Dress this. You learn.”

Dress this? Oh those translators – must mean WEAR this. So l did.  A heath meter appeared above my head, it was at about 15%. “Say /1 heal,” commanded the Spaniard.  My health meter went to 100% “Now you can fight. Hit me.”

“With what? I said. “I have no weapons.” 

“Fists. Escape M, left click.”  So I tried it – left clicking furiously all over his swarthy visage. It seemed to have no effect.  He then drew his sword, and faster than you can say sushi, I lay dead on the quay, his diabolical laughter ringing muhahaha through the chat line.

“/1 heal,” I wrote in chat and popped up like a jack in the box.

“You learn quick,” said the Spaniard.  “Hit me.”

Again I went to mouse view using escape M, and left clicked on him several times. A moment’s pause followed by swish, slash, thrust - Cara sushi.

“/1 heal,” I resurrected myself.  “This isn’t fair. You have a sword and I am unarmed.”
“You have fists,” Said the Spaniard. “Hit me.”

“Fists aren’t working!” I opened my inventory and put on six shooter I had picked up at a wild west sim. It was anachronistic for the period, and I had no idea if it would work on with the pirate fight system, but I trusted it would make my point.  I unloaded all six rounds in fast succession at him.  No effect.  “This gun may not work here, but it felt good to fight back.” I said.

“Here, use this.” He gave me a musket.

Two shots to his midsection and his health went down with each to 35%. That had to smart.

“I am still alive.” He grinned.

“Not for long,” I thought. “You are doomed to bleed out, or suffer a slow painful death by peritonitis.” (Hey! I watch PBS, too.) But this wasn’t real life, it was Second Life. Judging from the rate in which I could rise from the dead and get back in the game, apparently, third, fourth, fifth life etc., by these fight rules.  Instead of firing at his torso as one would with a musket in the heat battle, I took careful aim at my obliging target’s heart. He dropped like a rock.

/1 heal in local chat and up he rose, sword drawn coming for me. Jeeze Louis! Who is this guy?  Tulkas, The Terminator? Brown Bess had a bayonet so this time I had a fighting chance to block, bludgeon and thrust - which I tried. Slash, slash! When my health got below 70% I figured it was time to practice my dodging skills. I zigged, I zagged, and still he nailed me.  I put trees between him and me. He came round and I ducked behind some barrels.

“Stand and fight,” he roared. “I teach, you!”

“Discretion is the better part of valor,” said I. “I am out weaponed and outclassed … and I think I should read up on the fight meter to see how it works first.”

Spanish words stormed untranslated though the chat line, but the gist seemed to be “You are no fun at all,” said as he walked  away.

“Nice meeting you, too.” I called after him. “Thanks for the lesson!”

Just then another IM came  in from Arin. “I see you have met Tulkas. He is quite a character.”
“You’re telling me!”
“Want to go sailing?” 
“TP  me!” He didn't have to ask twice.

Off we were on the high seas, sails full, with the wind whipping through my hair, round islands, citadels and towns, past kraken and merfolk.  Until we hit the sim border and poof, the ship disappears right out from under us.

I was still wearing my health meter which dutifully told me

I can breathe! I can’t swim! 


I try to fly when…

Cara Cali is down!

There I am at the bottom of Davy Jones’ locker wondering what happens next when a TP from Arin come in. 

“Sim’s buggy today,” he said, as my dead, lifeless body washed up at his feet. “I have a swim AO.”

“I’ll add that to my shopping list.  Swim Animation Overide, pirate clothes, pistol and cutlass. Anything else I might need?”

“A ship.”

My eyes grew as big as saucers! A ship! I can get a ship!  It’s allowed? I don’t have to be a member of a group, have docking rights, pass a test or know the secret handshake?

“This is the tavern on La Dominique. I have some correspondence to attend.” I looked and he was sitting feet propped up as if had always been there.

I grabbed a goblet of wine from inside the tavern to wash the salt out of my throat and sat down beside him.  I looked out at the sparking Second Life sea and reflected on the day’s adventures: I had explored an island, fired cannon, sailed on a galleon, and been slashed, hacked and drowned until dead three times over. All in all, a jolly fun day! 

Yes, you meet all kinds in Second Life.

And “Yes,” I said raising my glass, “The beauty of SL is I can be any kind I want to be.”