Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Notes for Child Roleplay in Deadwood

I wrote up notes for being a kid in Deadwood, my one (lazy) contribution to Deadwood 2.0. Thought I'd also post them here, slightly edited for those who might be considering role-laying a child in Deadwood or any other Western or Victorian sim. I left out some of our rules for role play in the sim (there are very few).. this all comes from different sources gathered over the past couple of years -- people, books, websites .. some of the books and websites are listed at the end, but there are really too many to remember!

What’s a Kid like You Doing in a town like this?

The Wild West was rough and unsettled. In the town where I play, most children would not have survived alone – girls especially (sorry!) would be in need of adult supervision because girls were not allowed as much freedom as boys.

You can be in the Wild West for some good reasons – mostly because your family is there –or was there. If you don’t actually have a family, you can still talk about having a Ma or Pa who is around doing errands or who sent you into town to do errands.

You may have been orphaned or abandoned – you may want to hide that or lie about it or hang out at the orphanage (if there is one) or find someone to let you work for them in exchange for a place to sleep and a little food.

What Kids Wore in the 1870’s in the Wild West

The Wild West in the mid 1800’s, where I role-play, was cold in the winter, and we play it warm in the summer. Depending on how much money a kid’s family had, a kid might dress in layers of rags or be dressed (still in layers of clothing!) like a miniature adult.

Girls would dress like their mothers did, but their skirts would be a bit shorter and their hair let down longer. You could generally tell the age of a girl by the length of her skirt – a 7 year old’s skirt might be just below her knee – by 16, her skirt would be full length. Boys could be expected to wear knee britches until they were 12 or 13. (Boys under 4 commonly wore dresses sometimes with a bustle! And short pants beneath)

Everyday wear for girls under 16 would include a pinafore or smock to protect their clothing from dust and dirty. Older girls might wear a housedress or apron, like their mothers.
Leggings and shoes would be worn, even in the hottest weather. Well to do families would certainly include in their daughter’s wardrobe a camisole, pantaloons and slip. A son from that family would be expected to wear long johns, socks and shoes and a tie with his jacket. They would, of course, attempt to be current with the times.

Although heavily trimmed and decorated, children's clothes were nonetheless usually simpler than those of adults.

Daughters of miners or working class people might have less clothing, simpler designs, and cheaper (though sturdier) fabric sewn by their mothers. Sons of miners might wear overalls or suspenders. Their clothing might be cut from clothing of their parents or hand me downs from older siblings.

Because paleness, not tan, was considered fashionable, a child from a fashion conscious family would wear a stylish hat. All children would wear some kind of a head covering outside – for warmth in the cool seasons, for protection from the sun during hot weather.
However, it isn’t unlikely you will find children running barefoot and hatless in the Wild West in the summertime!

What do I DO with myself?

A child in the Wild West needs to keep busy in order to keep adults from telling them to go home or asking them annoying questions! What can you do?
Children in the real Wild West probably would have been seen more than heard, and not seen a lot! But in our town, children can do several things to engage themselves in the role play.
1. School. Much as 21st century children might not like school, school was often enjoyed by children in the 19th century. It was where you went to see other kids, do things that weren’t demanding chores, learn things that would help you with a job, borrow a fiction book (which were as exciting as video games and TV back then!) and perhaps have a meal not gotten at home (some teachers often provided breakfast and lunch).

2. Errands. A child could be sent into town to do errands – picking up some flour or eggs perhaps on credit at one of the shops, bringing a letter to be sent out or a message to someone. You get the idea (and it doesn’t hurt to have in your pocket a note explaining this from the errand sender in case you get stopped by some nosy adult!)

3. Jobs. Children could have apprentice jobs or little jobs – sweeping, mopping, sorting, learning a skill, fetching water, hanging clothes, watching a baby, grooming horses, feeding chickens..

4. Play! If there is more than one child in The Wild West and school’s out, children can certainly play. Play in the streets, play quietly outside a saloon, bar, shop where there are adults. Wade in the water (if there’s water nearby), climb the hills and explore. Explore the town and peek in windows. If you want to get in trouble, think about Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer – there’s a lot of trouble you can get into just by being a kid.

About Role-playing a Kid in Deadwood

This is from a piece written by one of our child role-players some time ago – hope you find it as useful as many others have!

-- Remember you're ignorant. Kids aren't born knowing everything. If you want your character to know something, ask yourself how you would have learned it. Was it in school? From your parents? From adults you would have been exposed to?

The longer you rp a kid in Deadwood, the more knowledge you'll accumulate... often hysterically distorted if you listen to everyone. So incorporate what you hear into what your character knows.

Also, kids often "know something" without having a clue what it means. Big abstract concepts like "America" are words kids use long before they really understand things like a nation or the world's size. So also try to ask yourself "Even if my character 'knows' this, what don't they understand about it?"

-- Practice selective listening. OOC you hear everything. IC, adults are mostly boring. Particularly dramatic incidents, indecent language, tidbits that reinforce things you already believe, or things that appeal to your unique interests - these are the sorts of things your character will be listening for. For a good example, note how Liza's a morbid child, and so whenever the topic turns deathward her interest level goes up.

Figure out what interests your character most and what doesn't. If it's boring pretend you didn't hear it or didn't pay close attention. If it's interesting perk your ears up and start asking questions.-Geoff Alderson

And I'll add some other thoughts on rping a kid in these times – children were expected to be obedient to adults. A child would not speak out to adults as equals, would not talk back and would Yes ma’am and Yes Sir most adults. Though a child might reply with a surly tone, even that might get a less than pleasant response from the adult or other adults. This is not to say your character cannot be disobedient – just don’t expect a tolerant response. However, children can think (and type out their inner thoughts) whatever they want as they respond “respectfully”.

Children might be involved when there is a bank robbery or shooting on the street and should react as their character would (see suggestions about interacting with adults).

Any shooting experiences should be realistically related to what children would have done in the times, within a well thought out storyline. For example, children might learn to shoot a rifle so they could hunt, carry a slingshot for fun, have a knife for carving purposes and might (occasionally) use these in self-defense.


Some Thoughts on Role-playing a Kid In The Wild West (more of Geoff Alderton’s suggestions)

Pictures and Thoughts on 19th century kids

What Children would have read

Children’s Amusements in the 19th Century (an article)

Children’s Fashion (pix)

Obituaries –children in Prairies where life was not easy


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nothing stays the sammmmmeeeeeee

The original Deadwood (described by many as Deadwood 1.0) is about to end, being replaced by Deadwood 2.0.

Deadwood will be going back in time, restarting. Those who are staying have choices about what to do with their characters, as the town burns just as it did in 1879, and then reopens a week later in real time as Deadwood, 1876 - the old beginnings of the town, with mud streets, tent shops and no law!

This should be exciting, if a bit messy.

It's a bit sad, too, as over the past couple of years, history has been created -- a lot of folks have come through Deadwood. One wonders how many of the old timers will recreate themselves, how many will never appear in this second life of Deadwood and how many new characters will be born from the old.

Lola Kanto, one of my favorite characters, won't be back. She's with JF, I know that - in their place in the hills of Kentucky with their children and grandchildren. Whether JF takes a trip to Deadwood remains to be seen - but Lola's busy.

This typist has tried out different roles and I imagine I'll show up as an adult since playing only children does limit your roleplay a bit.

But the kind of role I like the best is that of a youngster -- back to the days when you held an optomistic view of a world where anything seemed possible. Right and fairness conquer wrong and evil, without compromising your sense of self. Playing this age in the context of Deadwood brings with it the experience of that transitional period of coming of age - and that isn't a sexual knowledge - but a widening realization that things aren't always fair, the good guys don't always win...

It's an enjoyable age to play - like we probably all did as we grew up, the character of a child in Deadwood can one moment try to be brave and "grown up" in his or her actions, and the next revert to the protection of adults.

I'm sure I do this because I wish I could in real life, where life has been fairly difficult, where I've been a single mother for decades and now take care of my own mother. My escape from the demands of my own real life are to revert to the relative freedom of childhood, where I had no idea what lay ahead!

So Marrant will be back - with her twin sister,Mary - played by.. me. You can call them Mar and Mar (heh heh). These are the daughters of a new couple in town. The girls look only vaguely alike, though the parents insist they are identical twins. Their personalities are different and they are 13 - that awkward age when the mind and body seem totally out of control to their owners and those around them.

Somehow fitting as my youngest goes off to college and I'm left wondering what the hell am I supposed to do now? And while my own body goes through the changes at the other end of adolescence and the typist shrieks, "Who the hell is THAT in the mirror?"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Woohoo, a coupon for you!

hey, here's a coupon you can use in my Rather Be in Deadwood shop! $5.00 off your next purchase of $20.00 or more: ERYPSKYAHBXHRMMQTOYK. This code expires on 3/25/2010.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jemima follows her feelings...March 1879

It was past midnight, the first day of Spring, when Jemima loaded the wagon with food supplies, cotton diapers, blankets, sleeping bags and a few more items before tucking the empty spaces with infants and toddlers. Last one up was young Elizabeth who gave the stately Negress a strange look.

"Are you sure we need to do this Miss Jemima?" the young girl asked.

"Yes'm I sure am sure," Jemima said as she made sure her own baby, little Earl, was peacefully asleep with the rest of the babes in the back. "Glad you comin' wit' me," the woman added. "Don't know as I could be handlin' all of them alone."

"Oh, we aren't alone," Elizabeth said, half smiling as she tucked her braids under her wool coat. "Morton will be our guide and guard."

"Hmpfff," Jem tightened her bonnet and shifted her skirt as she clambered up beside the girl and took the reins from her hands. "Well don't 'spect he be ridin' up here wit' us. Molasses got 'nuff of a load ta pull." She flecked the horse lightly and the small wagon began moving away from the orphanage on Main Street.

The large black and white dog trotted by the wagon, on Elizabeth's side, as the girl looked down the dark streets.

"Nobody's even up yet," she said softly.

"Nope, most jes' be settlin' down." The woman looked at the girl. "You leave the Streeters a note?"

The girl nodded. "I told them I was with you. On a.. a mission." she added.

"Hmpff," Jem said, then added another "hmpff". She nodded a bit. "Well, suppose you could say it a mission."

They rode slowly down the street, over the bridge and as they moved further away from the town, Elizabeth turned and looked back, watching until there was nothing to see.

"It's.. dark," she whispered. "Kinda .. scary. Are you sure we need to go."

Jemima nodded. "Sure as sure," she said. "I don't get these feelin's offen but when I does... " she paused. "I learnt the hard way, it best ta follow 'em. Even if everybody else think I outa mah mind.. "

After a few moments she suddenly stopped the wagon and cleared her throat.

"Dog." she said. "You kin come up here, iff'n you want. They room 'tween Lizbet' n me."

Elizabeth motioned and Morton softly landed between the two females, settling himself on the floor as Jemima flicked Molasses again.

"Git on, now," she said the horse. "An' don't you say nothin', " she said to the young girl, who closed her mouth and swallowed her giggling "i-thought-you-said" before it rolled out. "He keep us warm," Jemima added, looking straight ahead.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dry Goods Mercantile Variety Store

I've been quietly selling some shops in a box for some time, an idea prompted when noticing that newcomers to Deadwood would wander around first trying to think of a business to take up, then looking for places that actually sold things that fit our time period (mid 19th century American western or Victorian era).

The Barber Shop has seemed to be my most successful to date. I got help from customers who sent requests for additions and improvements. That was followed with a Dressmaker's shop - which I just combined with my very successful Antique sewing machine, to make a Seamstress Shop. Although most probably in the wild west there weren't a lot of ladie's Beauty Shops, I added that awhile back and it has been fairly successful too, especially after adding comfy reclining chairs.

I've had most of the makings for a complete Variety Store and with the coming demise and rebirth of Deadwood, this seemed a good time to put a whole package together. And I have to confess, this was inspired by Astolat Dufaux's Western Dry Goods offer. Both of our offers are very affordable and a smart business person would do well to buy one of each, as we each have things the other isn't offering!

A Variety Shop as a business is really appealing -- you can start out with general goods and specialize it to make it whatever you want... as a builder, it is addictive and loads of fun. It's easy to make low prim items for it, and new shopkeepers can make as many cans, bottles, barrels, baskets as they want. The dry goods mercantile shops often served as lumber stores, a post office, barber shop, and stationery supply shops.

But a basic shop only needs a bit of this and that to start out... still, I had to force myself to stop before I hurt myself! In my inventory are things which I'll package later to offer as additions to this basic starter shop... my favorite thing in it is the hanging onions. Or maybe the pickle barrel. Or the 1876 Calendar that changes months. Or the cash register I made that rings and opens to show some old money. Or... well, I hope you'll take a look even if you don't buy a thing, it's a lot of fun!

Mine is set up in my shop in Alice and I imagine I'll keep adding things to it. You can order items from my start up set separately -- they may be a little more expensive that way as you can't copy the cans and such, but still a good deal!

Variety / Dry Goods / General Store Start Up in Xstreet or MetaLife

Seamstress Shop in XStreet or MetaLife

Barber Shop in XStreet or MetaLife

Ladies Salon in XStreet or Metalife