Today is the 10th anniversary of the closure of the venerable New Bremen Moderated Chat, which for what few whippersnappers out there may actually stumble over this, was a Java-based chat environment that was a cousin to the venerable MUDs, something like a text-based MMO for roleplaying in White Wolf’s World of Darkness (now known as the cWoD, and revived a couple of years back thanks to Onyx Path). I played there from their opening on April 22, 2000, bringing the original iteration of Linda Lee in there from the get go, and I had the pleasure and honor to be the head of its Werewolf team that ran the final scene that closed the doors on its final day. A June 17th, 2004 closure was planned, but the final scene rolled over past midnight Pacific time and into the following day before we finally wrapped and pulled the plug, so I stick with the 18th and do the same with this post, on general principle.
On January 27, 2002 I became an assistant ST there, working with the inimitable Joy Nelson and covering Kinfolk and the Media in New Bremen’s Mortals team, then in May-June of that year I was promoted to full ST, kept Kinfolk as part of my portfolio and was moved over to the Werewolf team assigned to cover the SF, GoF and ShL tribes. By August I had been reassigned to open the door to the antagonists area of WtA (I kept Kinfolk for a while too, and coordinated the Broken Caves sept’s sub-team for a while. In September 2003, I picked up the mantle of head Werewolf ST and remained in that capacity for the duration. Looking back, I can see a great many things that I could have done better of course, but that is of course the nature of hindsight. For example, character creation was too restrictive by the end as an intended remedy to their wild and wooly early days’ utter havoc, and the way that Lore abilities worked was a bit much, and I’d like to have made PCs rather than plot more of a driver to the Malfean Quest storyline; though I did try to strike a balance there, I do think my approach was a bit off that center. Still, it was fun doing it and the players that participated in the quest as well as the last stand of the Mended Past sept did tell me that they enjoyed the experience, which I suppose is the final measure of my team’s efforts. That was also my departure from STing in a moderated chat environment, a decision that I do not regret. Still, fond and often bemusing or aggravating memories abound.
Yes, I still have that old GIF that served as the logo for my old and long-lost Geocities New Bremen ST page. That’s because I still am the Wyrm. And yes, of course I backed the BotW20 kickstarter. So should you, but only if you like cool things. You do like cool things, don’t you?
In honor of the closure of New Bremen, I will post a few items from the end, and over the next few days I’ll post some screenshots of particularly memorable or humorous moments from (or talking about) NB that either I or others felt the need to save, some old NB-related artwork and so on. The first thing I will share is the e-mail that Conrad Hubbard sent to the New Bremen list once the chat closed:
On April 22 in the year 2000, White Wolf launched a new game setting which we hesitatingly referred to as a grand "experiment". For more than four years, hundreds and hundreds of players spent thousands of hours enjoying the largest communal World of Darkness game ever played on the internet. Thousands of characters walked the stage of the eerie city of New Bremen – forging alliances with like-minded contacts, destroying their deadly foes, conniving to surpass their so-called betters, seducing their ravishing paramours or falling to tragic ends worthy of big screen horror movies. We would like to think that thousands of characters played over the years have shown that the "experiment" was a success. To all of the players who have brought life (or unlife) to the deadly streets of New Bremen, we thank you. Thank you for supporting White Wolf, and for choosing us when you were looking for a good game to play. Thank you for providing each other with endless hours of good fun, and with stories that you will hopefully be telling your friends for years to come. To all of the Storytellers who have dedicated countless evenings to giving others the game they wanted, thank you. The New Bremen that we presented to you was a bare skeleton. You clothed it in the intricate (and sometimes frightening) ensemble which greeted the players every night. Thank you for doing your best to give an awful lot of people a really cool way to entertain themselves. Last year we announced the impending end of the world and the Time of Judgment. You made the End Times your own, exploring the characters you have created over the past four years, and building their personal stories in the face of the world's clock ticking away its final moments. Last night marked the true Final Night for New Bremen. We hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did. If you are already missing the friends that you have made over the years, fear not. We have merged the New Bremen character database with that of the Unmoderated chats. Just log-in as normal and you will be online with your old friends. Get together online to talk about the good times, and recall your days of glory together. Alternatively, if you really do not want it to all end just yet, then feel free to Un-officially continue to play if you like. In August, we will release a brand new chat for the new World of Darkness. Stay tuned. The new game is on its way... http://www.worldofdarkness.com -- Conrad Hubbard
Here’s the goodbye e-mail that I sent to the Werewolf players once it was all done:
As you no doubt are well aware of by now, New Bremen has come to an end.
Firstly, I shall say a few thank yous, to the following:
To Conrad Hubbard & ChrisM (wonder how many New Bremenites remember the times when Chris used to log in…), for opening New Bremen and keeping it around for so long.
To Ryan Stickel, for trusting and respecting me. Your praise is precious indeed, and you gave me the chance to run New Bremen’s final scene. That was an honor I shall never forget.
To Kim Wallach. Your ideas and opinions are very frequently diametrically opposed to mine, but you got the Spiral game organized when the chat was extremely young, forcing Gorm and the other spirals to actually form a pack and play together. Also, for hiring Joy as your assistant, and for talking me into creating and playing my most controversial PC.
To Joy, for pulling an obscure and opinionated player back into full activity in NB by somehow convincing him to become an assistant. You believed in me and got me started on this crazy road, and you remain a good friend.
To Lenny, for taking me under your wing and tutoring me on the fine art of being a ST, and for caring enough to call me on the phone to get to know me and figure out what made my creative process tick.
Collectively (and sometimes redundantly) to Varlenn, Laurel, Andrea, Rodo, Lenny, Mike and KeithH, for being the heads of WtA before me, and laying the groundwork that led up to my administration and The Apocalypse.
Collectively and redundantly also, to Rich, Myria, Emilio, Ryan Cash, BrianH, MJ, Jed and Soren, for rallying together with me to rebuild the WtA team in the wake of its private Apocalypse. You acted fast and decisively, and we managed to save this thing somehow.
To CraigV, Cass and RyanY. You were my first few out of many assistants, and helped me figure out what the heck I was doing.
To MJ_Asst / Mike Levesque on a personal basis, for befriending me when NB was young, for the wacky early days and the fun that they were together, and for being a fantastic assistant (not to mention helping me figure out how to be an assistant back when we were both in that position ages ago). You kept the Wyrm game going when my RL kept me away from my beloved ickies far too much.
To BrianH, for bringing experience to the WtA team I had to build from newcomers. You helped me keep an even keel, and your advice is much appreciated. Your humor helped me take things a bit less seriously, and your expertise with the fera helped keep me sane.
To JedG, for caring enough about the players in general to act as a jimminy cricket to me, and for your energy. You’re the man.
To Myria, for doing most of the real work with the Raiders.
To Nesto, for Defender’s Contrition, for Jonathan Levey and for so much more.
To Rhiain, for your knowledge, for your intense zoological research, your unique perspective, your quirky sense of fun and for your determined IC opposition. You helped the Fianna tribal politics back in the day halfway make sense.
To Christina and Jeff, for your rants, your opinions and your friendship. You refused to let me get a moment’s peace when something was going wrong, and I thank you for it.
To the WtA Antagonists players. You were a great deal of fun, and your enthusiasm for playing three-dimensional and interesting villains and Wyrm/Weaver/Wyld minions (skindancers too!) will inspire me for many years to come.
I wish I could cover everyone else but if I do, this post will be so long that even the folks I thank won’t read it. However, I do thank the most important people in NB’s WtA game: every single player that ever created and played a WtA character in New Bremen. This was your story, not mine. I’ve laughed, I’ve gotten misty-eyed, and I’ve been really, really annoyed, but it was worth it. I’ve had great times playing with you, and you’ve inspired me. Playing and STing here has made me a better roleplayer and hopefully a better person.
I feel that I owe it to the players of New Bremen to provide a brief overview of what happened in the end of WtA in New Bremen, and what happened to various Storyteller Characters and institutions in the time leading up to and following the destruction of the World of Darkness. I’ve also put considerable thought into what happened to various PCs’ spirits in the new universe as well, and as a gift am providing means that you can ask and discuss it with us now that it’s done. I’m not going to list that in this post so that I won’t leave out folks that I’ve forgotten or that I didn’t know well enough to really cover. But you can email me and the various members of the (now-former) WtA team to find out. At the bottom of this email, I shall list the names and email addresses of my teammates, and the URL for my ST webpage, which I shall keep online and update with the information that comes from these discussions in time (please be patient with it!). So, without further ado:
The MetaPlot’s Impact on assorted major NPCs and institutions!
The World – Out with the old, in with the new. The Wyrm (see below)destroyed the old World of Darkness to pave the way for Gaia to be healed and rebuilt. It has been cleansed of its darkness, and will gradually begin again under the watchful guidance of a healed Triat and spirits both old and new.
Gaia – She survived the Apocalypse after all, and though grievously injured, she will grow more lush and whole from the ashes like a forest after a blaze.
The Wyrm – The mixed “pack” of garou on the malfean quest managed to arrange for the restoration of the Wyrm’s former balance. Freed from their prison in the Pattern Web, Eater-of-Souls, Beast-of-War and the Defiler Wyrm have been recombined into one consciousness, the Urge Wyrms have simply faded away like the bad dreams they were as their master regained its ‘sanity’, and the Wyrm lashed out with a vast cosmic roar that leveled the Web and killed pretty much everything still living on the earth at the time.
The Weaver – Her Pattern Web lying in tatters, the Weaver realized her madness through that cauterizing pain, and she reentered cooperation with the other members of the Triat to watch over a new reality.
The Wyld – The Wyld continues much as it always has, and its waning strength is eventually restored.
Luna – her Aetherial incarnation Sokhta destroyed and her material correspondence broken into fragments, Luna was reduced from a Celestine to an Incarna and her strength almost completely broken in the final days of the Apocalypse. In the new universe, she would gradually recover from her sacrifice and recover her former status.
Rorg – His fury and madness at the end were such that he had to be put down in the restructuring, and another spirit arose to take his vacant seat.
The Planetary Incarnae – Some remained and others were destroyed or lowered in status as a consequence of their action or inaction in the final days of the old universe.
The Pentex Chief Spirit Officer (CSO) – Pentex managed to ascend from the level of an Incarna to a full Celestine as the Apocalypse progressed, and he absorbed the consciousnesses of all of his mortal (and a large number of his paranormal) employees and subjugated Cockroach. He helped instigate a coup in Malfeas that was still raging when the end came, and waged battle across many planes of existence in carrying out his Omega Plan. Yet it was all for naught. The Wyrm’s restoration to balance voided all of his stock options and devastated his plans beyond any hope of repair. He was prevented from stopping the wyrm’s healing because he was too busy simultaneously micromanaging the coup in malfeas and the destruction of Fenris Wolf at the hands of his spirit minions and the Maeljin Incarnae, and he arrived too late to act and watched in mute horror as the Wyrm rendered him irrelevant. He was not destroyed, but was reduced to a minor incarna at best and pressed into service as a sort of bureaucrat or CPA in the Wyrm’s new order.
Cockroach – the big bug always was a survivor, and his instincts did not fail him. He managed to weasel his way into the new Balance Wyrm’s service as the scavenger he is, and in fact fared much better than his erstwhile employer the CSO did.
Fenris – Fenris Wolf got his most fervent wish: he was destroyed as one of the final moments of the Apocalypse, in battle with several of the Maeljin Incarnae and a host of Banes, but destroyed many of them in turn, and died with Lady Aife crushed between his jaws.
The Other Tribal Totems – some were destroyed or demoted either in the throes of the apocalypse or thereafter. A few (notably Griffin and Wendigo) went mad beyond healing near the end and had to be put down along with Rorg, but others survive and prosper in the new age, particularly Falcon and Grandfather Thunder. Whippoorwill just barely managed to scrape his way through, suffering severe chastisement from his patron the Wyrm. A great many of his fellow Wyrm-totems were not so lucky.
Heron – He was destroyed by Knight Entropy in the final battle for The Last Caern, the aptly-Named Mended Past.
Knight Entropy and the Maeljin Incarnae – almost all of these beings, direct servants of the broken personalities of the Urge Wyrms and Elemental Wyrms, were destroyed. Knight Entropy died while destroying the Mended Past caern, Lady Aife was slain by Fenris, The Hellbringer fell on the Plain of the Apocalypse. None of the Elemental Maeljin survived. The most notable survivor was The Nameless Angel of Despair, who destroyed The Sept of the Stars and bound Fenris Wolf in the chains that weakened him enough for the CSO and Lady Aife to finish him off (Lady Aife didn’t survive doing this, but that’s her problem, not the Angel’s).
Helios – faithful to the end, Helios finally managed to break through the darkness shortly before the Wyrm was released, and he is just as important in the future as he was in the past.
Spiral-Backed Turtle – The Devourer of Caerns was finally destroyed in the assault on Mended Past.
DNA/Cybersolutions – these corporations collapsed along with human society with a little ‘gentle encouragement’ from the Garou, and of course have no presence at all in the new world.
The Elder Serpent – The great resident of Pangea (one of the last remaining servants of the Wyrm of Balance) emerged from its besieged realm and gathered the last of the Gurahl to accompany it into Malfeas to assist in the healing of its master, the Wyrm. It battled its way to the core of that realm and beyond, and kept Eater-of-Souls open long enough for the wyrm to take his medicine, then allowed himself to be consumed.
The Nuwisha – The werecoyotes were wiped out to a man in the Apocalypse, but many of their spirits live on and help to sing the new world into existence in time. Coyote never forgets how to laugh.
The Gurahl – the last six gurahl in the Tellurian joined the Elder Serpent in Malfeas and those who survived that arduous journey took part in the ritual that finally released the Wyrm from his prison. The greatest of Gaia’s healers fulfill their purpose, and die peacefully.
The Ananasi – The Ananasi gather their Atahsaia together and stage a massive assault on Malfeas while the CSO’s civil war is underway in that realm, further throwing that Realm into chaos. They do not survive their suicide charge to rescue Ananasa, but they do make it a lot easier for a certain group of Garou to penetrate the place. Ananasa is released as the wyrm breaks free, and assists the newly-sane weaver in her work.
Nightmaster – Nightmaster is slain in battle in the ruins of the Legendary Realm as he attempts to recover Uhurat’s Tusk and slay its holder. His minions the Midnight Shadows finish off the Nuwisha, but fail to finish Robert and his compatriots. They are obliterated wholesale in the restructuring.
Sprucie – His giant mutated newt-body dies along with the world as he defends his beloved Spruce Lake from Wakshaani, but his spirit and that of his Atluan inhabitant merge and continue their curiousity and mischief.
Jonathan Levey – He, Stefan Tvarivich and Gerald King are all slain at Mended Past. Their spirits endure. King Levey displaces the failed Zarok as one of the Planetary Incarnae, and Stefan remains his ice-cold and judgmental seneschal. Jonathan is not only a spirit of rulership, but of redemption. Gerald studies the sculpting of the new world with Hakahe.
The Old Wolf of the Woods – This totem displaces the fallen Griffon as defender of Wyld places and lost creatures.
The Agents – These Drone servants of the Weaver die in the Apocalypse, but many of them continue to exist spiritually as aggressive protectors of the Pattern.
Robert Anderson – He turns out to be The Desperate One after all, and carries Uhurat’s Tusk to help the Garou restore the Wyrm to balance, thus ensuring that it destroys and helps restore the world as he has long dreamed. His greatest lie thus becomes truth. He dies fulfilled as the Wyrm roars, and gladly takes his place at his master’s side, serving it as a revered, enigmatic and cunning Incarna (P’Ya’Ray the Singer of Impossible Truths) in the reborn reality.
King Albrecht – slain as a preamble to the Apocalypse itself, Albrecht’s spirit is at the vanguard of the defense of Falcon’s Umbral Homeland, and helps to stem the invasion of that Realm. He survives as one of Falcon’s highest servants.
Zyzhak – slain along with Albrecht, her final fate is not so glorious. Her spirit comes to the aid of Number Two in the final battle at the anchorhead from Malfeas to the Deep Umbra, and is standing in the wrong spot when the Elder Serpent breathes out a gout of purifying flame.
Margrave Konietzko – the great Shadowlord politician and warlord outsmarts himself and is killed along with a high percentage of the Garou Nation on the Plain of the Apocalypse against overwhelming odds. The Hellbringer’s forces are victorious in that Realm, but the Hellbringer himself does not survive. Grandfather Thunder appreciates the Theurge’s initiative and drive, but chastises him roundly for his failure. Eventually, he wins himself a high place in his totem’s heirarchy.
Golgol Fangs-First – The old campaigner fights on against the wyrm’s hosts in the Amazon until the bitter end, and serves in the eternities as one of Gaia’s great generals.
Drapshaudr – The Eternal Pursuit comes to an end with the world, and the Wyrm’s roar shatters Drappy quite thoroughly, having been defeated by the pack of ancestor-spirits that were entrapped along with him.
Sophia Demetriades, Nine One One and Lester Palermo – Sophia and Lester are slain in battle at MP, but Nine was never confirmed killed there. In any case, he certainly died along with everybody else.
Number Two – The “ruler” of Malfeas wages a war on many fronts against the CSO and certain of the Maeljin Incarnae, the Atahsaia and the Garou Nation. He receives warning from his enemy the CSO of the danger to the Wyrm, and abandons his hostilities with the Maeljin to take his Committee and many of his minions to head off the Malfean Questors at the anchorhead at the very depths of the Temple Cthonus. His Committee is shattered and he is destroyed.
So there you have it, the official “what happened?”
The story is now over, but a new story is begun, and I take comfort in knowing that tomorrow’s world will be better than was yesterday’s. You players made it possible, with your hard work, your sacrifice and your diligence, even your skepticism and infighting at times proved beneficial. It’s been a wild ride, and I’m grateful that I was here to see the grand experiment of NB go through its tottering first steps to reach maturity and finally to pass on its torch to others so it can bring itself to a satisfying conclusion.
As for myself, I will not be returning as an official Storyteller in the new WoD 2.0 or in any other moderated chat. New Bremen’s swan song was my own goodbye as well. My reasons are my own, but among them is the feeling that I have completed the job I set out to do. I did my best to provide an enjoyable, challenging and interesting Werewolf game in New Bremen, and despite the many bumps in that road and the mistakes I made along the way, I can honestly look back at this and be pleased with my work. Also, this gives me the opportunity to go out with a bang, as it were, rather than gradually fade out over time and retire from STdom in shame at some failure to continue on with it. Ending on a high note is not without its advantages. Many of you will still see me on AIM, and I will continue to moderate small private online games, and play in the 2.0 chat and others. I look forward to new stories and a rekindling of old friendships. Please, never be afraid to contact me.
Bilbo Baggins spoke thus (in The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings), and I feel it is appropriate now:
“Roads go ever on and on,
over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shown,
by streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
and through the merry flowers of June,
over grass and over stone,
and under mountains in the moon.
Roads go ever on and on
under cloud and under star,
yet feet that wandering have gone
turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
and horror in the halls of stone
look at last on meadows green
and trees and hills they long have known.
The road goes ever on and on
down from the door where it began.
now far ahead the road has gone,
and I must follow, if I can,
pursuing it with eager feet
until it joins some larger way
where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.”
Farewell and swift journeys. As the ever-infamous Krissy would have said, “May th’road rise up tae meet ye, may the wind be ever at yuir back, may th’sun be warm upon yuir face, may th’rain fall soft upon yuir fields, an’ if I cannae be with ye, may Gaia hold ye in the palm o’ Her hand.”
-Hal A. Case
Former (and final) WtA Head ST,
New Breman Moderated Chat.
Lastly, I will close this with the last thing that I typed in the New Bremen chat system after the place was closed, before I logged out for the final time, as I was there with BrianH to say a final goodbye to it:
“New Bremen, I’ve been with you from the beginning and we’ve been good friends and foes alike. The good times far outweighed the bad, and I’ll remember you with fondness. May you continue to inspire the stories I tell, and remind me of what a story can be. Good night, New Bremen, wherever you are.”