As part of our continuing coverage of the wonderful sims participating in the Roleplay Expo, we’ve taken a few moments to talk with the owners of the Grand Duchy of Chanwood, an immersive RP experience covering multiple sims, set in a medieval fantasy locale with RL roots.
FHG: Chanwood is a medieval fantasy setting during roughly the 12-14th century – What drew you to this era?
–We’ve recently set the definitive Chanwood year as 1423, but the era covered in roleplay still extends several centuries across. We wanted a “late middle-ages period”, giving time for most of the technology (usually incorrectly) associated with medieval fantasy to have developed, without moving fully into Renaissance and modern eras. Early enough to still be rough, late enough for the cool toys and discoveries to be prevalent.
FHG: The RP estate of Chanwood is made up of 4 beautiful sims, to give players a wide range of play areas. Were there real-world influences you drew from in its creation?
–The fictional location of Chanwood, as well as the climate, is based on the North Sea, about 200 miles east of Edinburgh. We used Northern Scotland and the Scandinavian countries as our primary inspiration for topography and names. The actual choice of plantlife, many of the lakes and falls, and the skyline are greatly inspired by the northern California area.
FHG: You currently use the Spell Fire system – what were the things that led you to this system over some of the others?
–Out of the major systems with the highest degree of support and accessories, Spellfire/Omega was the most realistic in terms of basic combat. We didn’t want a lot of special effects, nor did we want an XP/leveling system that rewarded idling. Rather, we chose a system that would reward hard work and practice, and had a standardized mechanics system.
FHG: What kind of challenges have you had to overcome in establishing the sim, and what have been some of your greatest successes with it?
–The greatest challenges have been walking a line between creating a world that many would enjoy, and keeping true to the ideals we had in mind when we started. It’s been difficult, at times, sticking to our guns when we realize that relaxing our standards would likely increase our traffic. But this has also been our greatest strength…we have built and developed a strong core of like-minded, skilled players who aren’t simply looking for a popular sim, but rather share a vision with us and hope to build on it.
FHG: What can new players expect ICly in coming to Chanwood? From a players perspective, what can one expect on their first visit to the sim?
–ICly, they can expect a strong emphasis on daily life. We’ve developed and maintained a local currency system that has worked its way into RP interactions and expectations, rather than simply being a mechanic. Our roleplay market, where folks can purchase actual items for roleplay money instead of linden money, has become a bustling weekly interaction event. Meters are required at all times, and the land is fraught with not only players who portray villains, but NPC wolf rezzers as well. This helps establish an air of danger and mortality in a wild land where it’s unwise to ever let your guard down.
FHG: How often does the sim host events? Are they all OOC or are there story-driven events as well?
–Chanwood is involved with intersim jousting, and we have a full schedule of events througout the week, such as Storyteller Guild members, the weekly Market, Ducal Court twice a week, Hobbit work days, Dwarven gatherings and Elven rituals. Chanwood management has moved away from planning story-driven events or story arcs, rather prefering to set a stage where players and group leaders may take the initiative to create the stories and become a part of them, rather than being handed a script.
FHG: What are some of your goals for Chanwood? Where do you see it heading in the near future as well as farther out?
–Short term goals include a desire to increase our villainous player base. We’ve recently acquired a group wishing to roleplay the “bad guys” and are working closely with them on raiding parameters. We are also working with other sims to expand the roleplay currency idea, attempting to distribute perwin ingredients and resources in a way that would require travel between sims for those who wish to create, and a currency exchange rate that would encourage trade roleplay. Further out, it is a long-term dream to add more surrounding area, particularly connecting more corner ocean sims for smoother sailing, literally.
FHG: What kinds or races, classes, and characters would find Chanwood appealing? What do you want to see more of?
–Chanwood is intended to be more inviting to the more standard races, such as humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes and halflings. I would like to see more players actually developing a character without relying on statistics, powers and “trick characters”.
FHG: With so many different social classes welcome, which in-character professions and positions need the most attention?
–There’s ALWAYS a need for healers and clerics. Soldier characters are valued to build up the Chanwood Company, the local militia. More halflings and dwarves would also be nice, as well as the more “common” villains such as goblins, orcs, etc.
FHG: The sim is visually striking, and the existing player base is friendly, helpful, and diverse. What kinds of resources are available for players looking to sharpen skills, improve their play, or hone their character backstories?
–We have just completed an OOC Arrival Point in a skybox that is chock-full of sim information, character development quizzes, and histories. We also have an extensive training facility, with a sparring pit, a training circle that teaches timing and range, and a terrained section for realistic skirmish practice. We also have a jousting list open to the public, and an extensive library with tons of information about races, groups, and OOC real-life history of the time period to give perspective. We also were careful in picking out our fictional RL location, knowing that if people could visualize the time and the location, they could visualize themselves as a part of it much more easily.
FHG: What would like everyone to know about Chanwood that hasn’t been covered?
–Chanwood’s basic premise, and it’s greatest appeal, is in its simplicity. The land is a borderland, a Celtic/Norse colony that has only recently begun growing enough to be of any significance. There is Court and jousting, but there are also wolves and mythical creatures. However, the land is not primarily a combat sim, though combat is a very strong part of it. Anyone wishing to play powerful characters from the start would likely benefit more from another sim that specializes in high-powered fantasy elements. Those who wish to immerse themselves in the mood and the spirit of the roleplay…who truly would like to experiment with what it MIGHT be like at that time in place…will find plenty of opportunity to flourish.