Just started re-reading this morning Gary Fine's Shared Fantasy and one chapter in I have already found three different but related examples of the open world play I posted about yesterday.
(I recommend picking this book up too if you are looking for a serious sociological study of role-playing games at their high water mark circa 1980. Especially interesting is his chapter long description of Empire of the Petal Throne sessions with M.A.R. Barker, then his colleague at the University of Minnesota.)
Fine's first example is in a section describing the Golden Brigade gaming club in the Twin Cities that jives with yesterday's recollections (and the observations of several of you in comments about how common “non-persistent” worlds were back then). Check out his description of what the weekly sessions played in the community room of a local police station where like back then:
“On a typical Friday evening fifteen to forty gamers participated in one to five games. At approximately 7:00 P.M. they begin to arrive, and shortly after several individuals announce (or are pressured into announcing) that they will referee that evening...Once an individual announces that he will referee a particular game, a group players joins him at one of the tables set up in the community room...Players then roll up their character (or use ones created in previous weeks), the referee explains the scenario he has constructed for the evening, and the players organize their characters into a party and begin adventuring. Frequently these games last until 2:00 A.M. Saturday morning. On occasion games last until dawn and are ended by breakfast...If a game is dull, or if other characters are central focus of the adventure, players may temporarily abandon their group and wander around to see how other games progressing.”
As Netherwerks commented yesterday, there must be something in the water up there in Minneapolis indeed!
Several pages later Fine looks at cross-over play between persistent campaign worlds—or at least persistent mega-dungeons--in different real world cities with an apparent re-telling of an attempt by Black Lotus Society players in David Hargrave's campaign to knock over an L.A. campaign dungeon (the anecdote that Fight On! recounted):
“Information about the major dungeons is now sufficiently diffused that players in one dungeon campaign may adventure in another. For example, gamers in San Francisco whose characters belong to an evil society planned to attack and take control of a dungeon in Los Angeles. These plans were thwarted by Bay Area gamers who had played in the L.A. dungeon at a convention.”
I am again amazed about how cool of an idea this is, almost enough that the pragmatic GM in my head will ignore the obvious question of how the hell would you make that work at the table. “Deanna, just calling you up to let you know that my players now control your dungeon. Can you send over all your maps before our next session this Sunday? Thanks, you're a doll.”
The last example is taken from Fine's interview notes with Barker about his facilitating role in the network of EPT campaigns:
“I'm sort of the center of the network and everybody comes to me ... I get lengthy reports from players in other campaigns who will say "I did this and I did that and I have now become Lord Such and Such, is this OK?" ...Usually if it's possible, I'll say "OK, that's fine with me...I'll work you into my campaign in that capacity." Somebody says "OK, I have become high priest of Thumis [Lord of Wisdom] in Paya Gupa [a border city in western Tsolyanu]" or something, and I say "all right." And when my players go to Paya Gupa they meet him.”
In other words there was even space in the supposedly closed-off, top-down environs of Tekumel for co-creation in a shared world.
How cool is that?