Slobbovia: a rich fantasy world created through a play-by-mail game

On Play This Thing, Greg Costikyan reviews Slobbovia, a collaborative writing exercise disguised as a game:

To call Slobbovia a Diplomacy variant is, however, misleading; the game purposefully had no victory conditions, and the formal game itself served as little more than a framework for structuring a written roleplaying game. The postal Diplomacy hobby has a tradition of "press," whereby a player may, each turn, include a written statement that is published with the turn's results (e.g., "The Office of the Kaiser today announced..."). In Slobbovia, press was the focus of the game, rather than a minor adjunct.

In other words, it was a form of collaborative story-telling in written form; each player had a single "main" character, but could also introduce subsidiary characters. An tacit rule prohibited killing off another player without his permission, and it was considered polite to get a player's input and permission if you intended to include one of his characters in a scene. Events in the ongoing story would certainly cause players to change their behavior in the underlying game, and vice versa, but no one seriously tried to play the game in a min-max, win or die kind of way.

A typical issue of the Slobinpolit Zhurnal, the fanzine that carried the game, would have more thsn 100 pages of prose, and perhaps 3 pages of game results.

Slobbovia

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