An introduction to old school Gorean RP
( this is an old doc I created back int he days of AOL Gor )
Gor RP for newbies
More than likely, you’ve expressed an interest in online roleplaying, maybe in Gor in particular. This was written with you in mind; it’s an introductory FAQ designed to answer some basic questions you may have, and make you think of many more.
So read on…
What is Gor?
Online, Gor is a setting that people roleplay ( RP ) in. In actuality, Gor is a world defined in a series of almost 30 books written by John Norman, from 1966 up through the present. The books are typically hard to find; Borders and Barnes & Noble do not carry them, and they are all out of print ( although Amazon now has reprints! ). Gor is the fictional setting for these books. The world of Gor shares some similarity with certain historical eras on Earth; most notably medieval Europe, as well as Greek and Roman periods. Gor is a lush planet, untouched by industry. Forests are mighty and expansive, water runs free and pure, rivers deep and long, and the sea ( named Thassa ) is just as beautiful as any Earth Ocean, if not more so. Almost all technology is at most developed to a medieval level; swords, bows, helmets and shield, furs, wagons, tunics and breeches are common. Guns, cars, airplanes, computers, Gameboys are all but unheard of.
Civilization on Gor exists for the most part at the city-state level, as in Greek times on earth. People are very loyal to their cities, and often one city wars with another. Because of the setting, people on Gor are typically studier and much better physical examples than the people of Earth; Gor can be very rough and unforgiving, so the people that survive tend to be much more robust… this applies to any trait that selects for survival; strength, power, force of will, physical attractiveness, and so on.
Earth does exist in the Gor setting. Gor is called the “counter-Earth”, holding an orbit exactly opposite of Earth around the same sun. According to the books, people are periodically taken from Earth and brought to Gor; this means Goreans have an awareness of, even a history with, the people of Earth. Most people on Earth are totally unaware of Gor.
Online, Gor is a setting to RP in.
What is roleplay?
Roleplay online is simply this; the development of a character or role ( like a character in a play or on a TV show ) that a person “plays” when they interact with other RPers. For example, you may choose to RP a warrior character. This would mean that you would develop an idea of a certain warrior, your warrior. You’d know what the warriror looked like, how old he was, what weapons he fought with, where he came from, and what his motivations are. It really is like developing an alter-ego.
You’d then use this character to “play in Gor”; that is, to interact with other characters in rooms created for just such a purpose. Your character is enduring; this means that unlike “cybering”, the character you create would be one you’d play with over and over, through weeks, months and maybe even years of real time. In this time online and in characte3r your new persona may make close friends, deadly enemies, found their own house, and so on. RP is the act of doing all this. When you RP you speak in character, as the persona you’ve developed would, and you act in character. It is -very- bad form to step out of character ( OOC ) while RPing, and there are certain “proper” ways to do this, if it becomes necessary.
If you ever thought it would be enjoyable to play a role… one that allows you more freedom, more expression, the ability to be something that in real life ( RL ) you would never have the chance to experience, then perhaps you’d find RPing quite enjoyable. RPing is a curiocity for some, a hobby for most, and almost a lifestyle for a few.
What is mun, mun consent, and mun crossing?
A “mun” is the person in real life that controls a character in Gorean RP. You, the person reading this, is a mun. A mun is different than the Gorean character they play, obviously… and mun is the term used to make that distinction. My Gorean character is named Teacher Malakim; I am Malakim’s mun.
This naturally leads to an issue called “mun consent”. When you RP in Gor, like any game there are certain rules to follow. One of the most important “rules” is that you stick to however a certain story line ( SL ) seems to be developing for your character. You have more control of this than you may have over real events in your real life; but things still take a turn for the unexpected. For example, in Gor, your character may be killed ( quite easily, in the beginning! ) or may be taken into slavery. Such events are not necessarily bad, but most new players in Gor would find events like these disturbing. Some players are tempted to void a SL they don’t enjoy simply because it is difficult to play. Some simply log off of AOL if a SL takes a dramatic turn for the worse, returning later as if nothing “bad” had happened. Some characters don’t void SLs or log off, but they refuse to RP situations they find displeasing, claiming “mun consent” and opting out of the situation at hand.
Mun Consent simply means that a real life person chooses to exercise a great deal of control over what happens to their Gorean character. They see their character as an investment of time and effort, and have no wish to play a character whose situation on Gor has been radically changed due to the play/actions of others. So they reserve the right of Mun Consent. This means that they will not allow their characters to be killed, enslaved, or even interacted with if the particular circumstance is not to their liking.
Strictly speaking, this is not true Gorean RP. Though many creative, detailed and vivid Gorean RPers claim Mun Consent, the majority of RPers in Gor are hostile to this idea. They believe that Mun Consent detracts greatly from the enjoyment of RP, reducing it to little more than a story that the person who reserves Mun Consent is writing, with everyone else as bit players. Many Goreans will not RP with those who reserve Mun Consent, as they see it as an insult to the time and effort -they- place in developing their own characters.
Mun Crossing is the obvious “showing through” of a mun in across several RP characters. Some Goreans play multiple characters; When these characters act in concert, with knowledge their characters in Gor would not possess ( but they do, only, only because they are controlled by the same mun ) that mun is said to be “crossing”. This is considered -very- bad form in RP. Other types of crossing include two characters controlled by the same mun, one avenging the other’s death; the harassment of another character ( or many characters of a particular mun ) by many characters of the same mun ); the pursuit or a certain character by multiple characters of the same mun; and so on.
Selective RolePlaying is very different than Mun Consent. Selective RPers will play their SLs fully as they lay, that is, accept what happens to their character, as long as it is within the true spirit of Gorean RP. This is not as ambiguous as it may sound. The character playing Selective RP Gor ignores people that are obviously un-Gorean, that are intentionally disruptive to play ( this is different than being disruptive to the lives of the characters; and important distinction ) or who are obviously new and make the mistakes of a newbie. Too many newbies think they have to abide by directions from bad, immature, un-Gorean RP… and this leads to much stress and loss of good players. Selective RP is probably the best compromise between accepting everything and dictating everything. It is play, and it is all about fun. The rules make the fun more enjoyable, but should probably not be a prison.
Now let’s watch the email from both extreme sides pour in : )
Who RPs in Gor?
Many, many different types of mun RP in Gor. Engineers, housewives, police officers, web designers, those on disability… you name it, they’re here. They do share certain characteristics, of course. They have internet access; they’re on AOL; they’ve heard and learned a bit about Gor, and something about this setting appeals to them. As you’ll read below, there are certain broad types of characters here, and many people find one ( or more ) of those types in keeping and pleasing to their mun personality.
All Goreans should be adults, legally and in maturity. You should not RP with minors; RP in Gor is unsuitable in the extreme for children, and your mun ( you, in real life ) could be TOSsed off AOL, even prosecuted for RPing with a minor. Play in Gor is a very matured-themed thing.
Having said this, of course it follows that not everyone who RPs in Gor is mature. The new, the disturbed, the unblanaced, minors, and the truly problematic also play in Gor. They partake of the setting as such people do in all hobbies, online or otherwise. Immature or disturbed people may be drawn to Gor simply for the sexual or violent themes; These individuals are fairly easy to pick out, and are recognized as a problem by the Gorean community as a whole. It is not bad form to ignore or report such individuals… they are not here to enjoy Gor, they are here to cause problems, and should be dealt with or ignored as appropriate.
What kind of RP takes place in Gor?
Any kind of RP -can- take place in Gor, in keeping with its setting.
The establishing of Houses, the furthering of a House’s goal, the building of character families and friendships, as well as the development of a character in their chosen craft from novice to Master are all common themes for RP in Gor. Because of the nature of the books Gor comes from, and by choice of the vast majority of people who RP in Gor, combat and sexuality are -hugely- popular themes of play in Gor. Some few RPers are here just for these two things, to fight and to fu… er, play out sexually-themed RP. This is their loss, really. Most who RP in Gor play a more well rounded character, with much more breadth of experience… along with a very liberal helping of sex, and maybe of violence, depending on the character.
Is there Bisexuality or homosexuality in Gor?
Straight Gor ( please pardon the pun ), that is, Gor as detailed in the books and practiced by most players here, does not involve bisexuality or homosexuality. Hard-line devotees of the books will not engage in such practices, and will probably react negatively to such play, or the supposition of it.
But bisexuality and homosexuality are ways many a mun express themselves, and it is only natural to want to bring these orientations into RP. They do exist, of course. There are groups of male Masters with male pleasure slaves, female mistresses with female pleasure slaves, and so on. But understand that while this may be perfectly acceptable behavior in the mun world, rewarding and erotic for those who participate or watch, generally speaking it is not considered “true” Gor, and many who RP in Gor will not endorse or pursue such actions or SLs. I suspect this is not so much a comment on how they feel mun-wise about bisexuality or homosexuality, but rather their devotion to playing in Gor as was detailed in the books.
If your interests lean along these lines, my suggestion would be to not be obvious in this at first; learn to play “straight” Gor, and if the setting is still very much to your liking, you will find yourself in the company of people who share your point of view, and who enjoy the same type of play you do. As in real life, Like Attracts Like.
A side note- in the later books this topic was touched in briefly though very subtly with a Master whom obviously has a penchant for slave boys. The whole mentioning was not very detailed, more alluded than integrated into the story. It did not establish this as normal or accepted Gorean behavior, although it did imply it existed in a discreet fashion. Again, Gor is a setting, notreal life. No inferences should be drawn about mun attitudes.
Sounds very involved. Why are Gor RPers so serious?
Gor RPers, by and large, take their play fairly seriously. They spend time and effort here, developing, interacting, and playing. Most people who don’t RP, who don’t chat online might not understand this… in fact they may be -incapable- of understanding it.
I suspect the truth is that RP here is like any other sort of hobby; martial arts, playing the piano, model making, watercolor, and so on. It requires an investment of time, and that investment is pleasurable. Most would agree that anything worth doing is worth doing well; Goreans adhere to this principal ardently. A Gorean will typically spend more time online, playing than most non-RPers. They enjoy their characters; they enjoy the setting and the people they’ve met here.
I’m very interested, but I don’t have a lot of time to spend on AOL. How do I still get involved?
That could be a problem.
Good play here involves time and effort spent. It is possible to spend brief and irregular amounts of time and still enjoy playing in Gor, but the character you play should be reflective of this; that is to say, your character should not assume responsibilities that would naturally require his or her presence online past what you were able to do. This requires a bit of finesse, but it can be done. Future documents will cover ideas on how to make low-maintenance, low-incidence characters for fun play.
Observing is -always- an option. In almost every Gor room or venue, you may enter and as long as you remain silent ( not announcing your presence, not interacting with anyone ) you will be left alone. It is poor form to interact with someone who has not announced themselves or otherwise made it obvious they are interacting in the room.
So, where do people RP Gor?
Typically in the “Special Interests” area of AOL, in the rooms “Created By AOL Members”. They also play on IRC, but this document is rather AOL-centric.
Rooms with the words “Gor” or “Gorean”, “kajira”, “paga” or “sleen” are always Gorean, and will attract Gorean RPers. There are many more names of course, but the rooms containing the words above are heavily frequented by many types of players ( very new and very experienced, alike ), and provide good settings for those wishing to observe for a bit and get a feel for Gor.
Ummmmm, why are you all talking so funny?
Gorean RP takes place in a vaguely medieval setting; it is also typically done in a very descriptive style; that’s just the norm. Both of these factors and more may encourage more… verbose, descriptive dialog and interaction than newbies are used to. Not everyone spends many lines talking about one little thing, describing one simple gesture, but it is not uncommon. After watching for a bit, you will get a feel for it; there really is no right or wrong here.
How do I start?
Go into a few Gor rooms and just watch.
If you see someone play in a way that catches your eye, email them with something like “I saw you RPing in Gor” in the subject so it doesn’t immediately get deleted, and introduce yourself. Tell them you are new to Gor, and interested in learning more. Compliment them on the RP you saw; most everyone likes this ; ) Most Goreans will take a moment to email you back, providing you with a few links of websites where you can learn more. Some will invite you to play, or advise you on character types you may wish to consider.
There are also many, many websites detailing the Gor setting spread all over the internet.
When you feel the least bit comfortable playing yourself, or you have a new friend or two to guide you, make a simple character, and start playing. It’s that easy. Worst thing that could happen..? Well, your character could get killed. In that case, you simply make up a new character. Your character could become enslaved, of course. Then you would have to make a decision… are you a serious RPer, or just here for laughs? The serious RPer will not delete the character just because they are enslaved, but will take the opportunity to fully explore the new situation, and learn RP skills. You can always start a new character to play as well; Most Goreans have more than one character.
What if I just want to watch?
That’s fine. If this is your choice, then remember to just watch. Don’t IM, and certainly don’t interact in the room. You’re either in, or you’re out. And you’re certainly not “in” with a screen name like “Skeeter6969696”.
What if I have questions?
Read the books; one, some, or all of them.
Email someone who plays, and ask. Do this -once- per person, and be sure to let them know in the subject line you have a question about Gor. If they don’t respond, or they answer your question but do not invite further inquiry, do not email them again. This is common sense.
Go into the rooms, and watch.
Do a search on the internet for “Gor” or “Introduction to Gor” or “Introduction to online Gor” and check out the pages that come back in the search.
What type of character can I play?
There are -many- types of characters, but they fall into a few broad categories:
A Free Man – a tradesman, a peasant, a warrior, and so on. A free man typically owes allegiance to a family, a house, a caste, and/or a city. A freeman lives life, owns property and possibly slaves, and tries to better himself.
A Free Woman – may be as skilled as a Free Man, though Gorean society is typically male-centric. Free Women are very much in a precarious position, in practice remaining free ( and not enslaved ) by virtue or their own wit, the protection they have, and sheer force of will. Gorean men are typically not subjected to such circumstances. Free Women must act virtuous, somewhat aloof, and in the best interest of their family or caste. It is not easy to play a Free Woman well, and anyone wishing to make such a character should watch FW characters first. A Free Companion ( FC ) is a Free Woman who is “with” ( like married to, but not quite the same ) a Free Man. A Free Companion has a bit more freedom to let loose behavior-wise, but mostly just in front of her Companion. The still must be a paragon of vitue and tact in public, maintaining a delicate sort of balance lest they be enslaved themselves.
A female slave – a very common starting female character, and experienced female character. A slave is totally submissive to her Master. She may start with a Master ( this is called “being collared”, perhaps to a mun with whom she has worked out such a character ) or may start without one ( uncollared ) to be collared by the first Free Man ( or woman, but typically not ) that happens along and can catch her.
A Male slave – not a common character. Males are typically dominant in Gorean settings, and a male slave is not well regarded in many circles. In the circles he -is- well regarded, perhaps that makes all the other negativity worth it… this is not a typical starting character for a mun new to Gor.
There are endless variations on these themes. Outlaws, Panther Girls, Wagon People. Many of these variations are esoteric and not easily played well by “experienced” Goreans, much less by people new to Gor.
What types of characters -do- newbies typically play?
Free Men, female slaves. There are exceptions to this, but generally speaking, these roles are the easiest for new players, and provide “the best” view ( based on gender ) of how typical Gorean RP is carried out.
As an aside here, one single character is –plenty- for the newbie to start playing with. While there are no hard and fast rules, a good idea would be to at least be able to answer all these questions off the top of your head before you start creating your second character… and probably a bit after that. .
Can I be anything?
Well, kind of. You can be anything, within the setting. You probably can’t be a fighter pilot, or an astronaut, or a fireman; but why would you? You’re playing in Gor.
So, within the setting of Gor, the guideline of what you can play should be what you -can- play, what you’re capable of playing based on your knowledge of the setting, and of how RP is done. Starting out, don’t play an Ubar ( a ruler ), don’t play the head of a household, don’t play a character of the Wagon Peoples ( assuming you haven’t read anything about them ), don’t play a Panther Girl ( most experienced players don’t get it right, as a newbie, you -definitely- won’t get it right ), never play a feral.
You get the idea. Keep it simple, to start. You’re not in a race, and you’ve got all the time in the world to grow into the setting. Biting off more than you can chew in the beginning is the best/fastest way to get others upset with you, and to have the whole setting go from something very fun to play in to a source of negativity. And who needs that?
How do I know one type of character from another?
Visually, just by looking at the screen names, there are a few ways. If your native language is English, the names will probably sound vaguely male or female. Only free persons will have last names, typically, though some free people go by just one name. Slaves will only have one name, given to them by their current or former Master. Typically Slave screen names ( SNs ) are bracketed, and are always un-capitalized. So a slave named kara might take a screen name that made her status obvious… like || kara || or perhaps VM kara MV …. The capital letters on either side are indicative of a collar, the sign of slavery. Other conventions exist.
Reading one’s profile should make it abundantly clear if they are male or female, slave or free. You’ll probably see a lot of abbreviations or names you don’t understand. This is normal, and probably has to do with House allegiances, caste, or weapons used. Again, ask.
So I have my first character… what if I mess up, and do something I shouldn’t?
Everyone does. One time, after my first time out, my Free Character, a male Teacher said “Be well, Master” to another free man that was leaving the area. In/on Gor, a man or woman subjects themselves to immediate bondage into slavery if they act as a slave; and only slaves refer to other free peoples as “Master”. My own kajira ( an experienced player ) let me know via IMs I had erred, and I immediately sent a simple IM to the other player: “ A mistake, I’m new.”. There was a pause, then as he left his character told mine to be well, and to hang onto my kajira. This was ( now, from my slightly experienced point of view ) the perfect sort of response; It let the matter drop, with an implication that I get my act together, or maybe the next time I make a mistake someone might do something unpleasant, like collar me or take my kajira if I couldn’t prevent it.
So mistakes happen, all the time, more in the beginning. Most experienced players will understand this, and give the newbie a little leeway. But -all- Goreans will expect the newbie to learn, and quickly. Continued bad RP, continued mistakes obviously based on an unwillingness to learn the correct way to do things will not be overlooked for long.
Make the investment in time, it’s worth it.
Just because I play a Master, does that mean I can make a slave do -anything- I want?
Pretty much, yea. But remember a few things, here.
Don’t be a jag-off. Act within character, don’t abuse others for no reason, and don’t use others as toys simply because you can. Acting within character can solve 95% of these issues, and justify 95% of your actions. But don’t hurt others. Don’t wreck SLs on a whim, or because someone said something to your character than upset it’s mun ( that’s you, by the way ). Don’t collar-then-abandon. Most slave characters are very serious about RP; if you collar them, they will expect you to be there as a Master. Let me restate that: don’t collar-and-abandon. If you can’t be there as a Master, use them as a Master would use a slave, for your pleasure… then move on. Don’t assume responsibility you aren’t ready to handle.
Don’t pick a fight if you don’t have to, or your character wouldn’t… you’re most likely a coin-toss away from character death, as is the person you’re picking a fight with.
Just because I’m a slave, does that mean I -have- to do what other people tell me to?
Pretty much, yea. But remember a few things here.
Although your character is a slave, although submission and your Master’s pleasure and whim define your existence, although -any- free person may typically visit -any- pleasure or pain upon you… this is RP. The Gorean setting has rules, or at least conventions.
Hardline Goreans would say it’s as simple as that; You play a slave, your character lives at the whim of all Free people. Period. Your Master collars you and then doesn’t talk to you again; well… you’re a neglected slave. You may be stolen, killed because he’s not there to protect his property, and so on. So be it, that’s a slave’s life.
Very liberal players reserve Mun Consent; they claim nothing can happen to their characters, no SL can be changed or initiated that they ( the mun of the character ) do not approve of. They don’t like the way things are going, they delete, void, or ignore what they don’t like.
I suppose the best answer lays somewhere in between the two poles. “Everything in moderation”. If you play a slave, be prepared to accept and to play though a liberal helping of hardship, as well as the pleasure that comes from sweet submission to a ( hopefully ) strong Master. If you reach that level in yourself, if you start telling yourself that your character isn’t being abused or neglected in-character ( IC ) but instead is just the object of abandonment or poor RP, then you have a decision to make. I can speak for myself when I say that I would rather have you here in Gor as a player, instead of having you leave altogether because of a seriously bad experience.
In conclusion… this is a very brief FAQ. It’s meant for newbies whose eyebrows raise and who maybe get a tingle somewhere when people give them a brief description of Gor. There are certainly -way- more complete ( and typo-free ) sources of info on Gor out there. Be that as it may, I’d love for this document to be as good as it can be. If you have input, let me know. There are more FAQs on the way.