9/20/99: Space Cadets versus the Dark Empire Slavers of Planet X
by Pieter van Hiel

Hello. Um…I'm not sure where to start.

My name is Pieter, and I'll be your role-playing sysop for this evening. For the next several evenings, I should hope. Pleased to meet you. Let me tell you a bit about myself and what I hope to accomplish as RP sysop. Mostly I'll talk about myself, though. So blah!

I was born in 1974 - the same year Dungeons and Dragons hit the market, and the year Edward G. Robinson coughed up his last in Soylent Green as well as reality. Neither event would have any relevance for me until a good ten or eleven years later, but there you go. I was born in Burlington, Ontario, a largish city of about 135,000 some 40 miles south-west of Toronto.

Anyway, I got into role-playing in about 1982, with my discovery of Steve Jackson's Fighting Fantasy book, Warlock of Firetop Mountain. All right, so that's not proper role-playing, but it was closer to it than those damned Choose-Your-Own-Adventures I'd been obsessed over. Speaking of which, remind me someday to tell you about the incredibly frustrating secret of UFO 54-40, the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book that I alone of all the 3rd graders at Memorial Public School was able to complete. The fools. Moo ha ho ha.

Actually, I'd encountered the role-playing world before that. In 1978, I walked in on my cousins' game of D&D. The pictures in the monster manual scared me off. Indeed, I used have nightmares about the Purple Worm… a giant fanged, throbbing, purple worm who I'd imagine pushing it's way through tight, damp tunnels, in pursuit of helpless little boys. To this day, I sometimes wake up screaming, and I turn to my beloved wife Erin and tell her about my dreams. I can tell my heart-rendering descriptions affect her as well, by the strange look she gets. Sometimes she's so upset, she goes to sleep at her mother's.

Okay, so the part about the Freudian nightmares isn't true. But I bet I had you wondering for a bit, eh? Eh? Ah, forget it.

As a child, I was really into the whole fantasy/sci-fi genre. My favorite movie was The Black Hole and my favorite books were the Chronicles of Narnia. While the other fine young Canadians were busy playing hockey and working up life-long addictions to Tim Horton's doughnuts, I'd be reading my Doc Savage omnibus or playing an extraordinarily complex game of "Let's Pretend" with my friend Keith.

Time to cut to the chase. I got my first "real" role-playing game for my 13th birthday in 1987… FASA's own Doctor Who. I've been role-playing almost every weekend since then…I first experimented with online role-play when I ran a Call of Cthulhu game over a local BBS in 1992. The game fizzled, since the email time factor was just to hard to overcome. I tried again in 1993 with the sprawling online epic The Dalek Invasion of Fraggle Rock, but after 6 fun months that died as well.

I discovered chat-room role play when I first connected to the Internet from my home in 1997. From June 1997 to September 1998, I was a WBS addict. I started out in the Nexus, and moved in the Babylon 5 room in the fall of '97. Within three weeks, I was an RP advisor, and within a couple of months I was on the RP council for that once very active room. As an aside, the B5 room on our own room is run by some of the same people, and I know for a fact they're excellent role-players. Check it out.

I have a degree in print journalism. In the past 2 years I've worked as a consultant for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, as a media liaison for the local police (got to wear a uniform!) and as a Street Ministry and Emergency Response Coordinator for the Salvation Army. I used to be a regular columnist for the RPG/sci-fi magazine Realms, and recently I did some writing for the game Ironclaw. Right now I'm in the middle of writing a 70-page supplement for that game.

So now you know me. What the hell does that have to do with what I'll be doing here? Er… I dunno. I just like talking about myself.

Here's what you can expect from me…I'll be writing an 800-1000 word column every two weeks on the subject of online and offline role-play. I'll also be putting up RPG reviews, and running chats and workshops designed to improve your role-play. I might even run a game or two, and you'll certainly be seeing me around in one of my various personas. If you see me, and need someone to help fill in a scene or two, feel free to ask. I'll also be running a monthly CONTEST…best one-liners and best role-play scenes.. If you're in a great role-play or someone says something really clever, log it and send it on .The entries I like best will get recognition every month.

Oh! I'll also be glad to accept any articles or short stories you might want to see published.

One warning…I may be a sysop, but my programming knowledge is nonexistent. If you're having any connection troubles, or want your handles edited or what have you, ask someone else. :)

Enough talk! There are whole worlds out there to explore…I suggest we get started. I'll see you there.