Cantr II is a text-based persistent browser-based role-playing game (PBBRPG), that first went online in late 2002. There are no NPCs in the game world, leaving the only interaction to be with characters played by other players. Created as a social simulator, it has gone far beyond the scope of the original (a game played by the creator and some friends using Lego pieces to represent the 200 or so characters, and scraps of paper to detail their motivations and goals), to a true multiplayer game, with all the social interactions (and friction) that implies. Empires, kingdoms, thieves, knights, librarians, personalities, managers, leaders, schemers, schisms and good old chatter, Cantr has it all. And with some interesting developments, the scope has expanded again to reach the Meta, into an exploration of what happens when oversight disappears, muscles flex and who can survive the regime. Fascinating stuff, but not for the thinskinned, or faint of heart. Of course, you could just use it as a chatbox, but when else do you get to (safely) explore the ramifications of living under an oppressive dictatorship? And that's not getting into the ingame dictatorships that arise.
Essentially you create a character, choose gender and see where you are placed (spawned). Everything after that, is up to you and the people around, including your own characterisation of your character. Spawned in a bustling town, with opportunity? Take them up, and see where life goes. In a quiet town with little going on? Make something happen, and liven up the place. An unofficial trailer provides its own overview of some of the things you can do. Warning - Game looks and plays nothing like this. Also doesn't have music.
But a few caveats. Cantr can get very serious and consequences can happen to your character with little or no warning especially as a new player and character both, so hopefully these tips will keep you coming back to the Green, and creating interesting stories with friends.
OOC Is Serious Business: For talking player to player, as in asking about game mechanics, use the shorthand OOC: .But try to keep it as a whisper, to respect others immersion. Also think if it'd be possible instead, to ask in character? "How do I get the ship going the right way" vs "OOC: Hey, which button does the steering?". However, this rule of etiquette and respect to other players is frequently violated, and used as a tool to get their own way, much like a child having a tantrum. Report it, and don't stoop to their level.
But we also follow what's called the Capital Rule - which is open to interpretation and ruling. But basically, information and attitudes from one character, cannot effect the others. Staff have a huge leeway to decide what is and isn't a breach, so the wisest course is to only have one character ever involved in an event, in a town, or attitude to a person. Unless you're special. But for the plebians, if Person X makes one of your characters formative years hell on earth, you can have an attitude about them. However, if Person X tries to kidnap another of your characters, you may not express any emotion whatsoever, as this will be interpreted as a breach.
Earn Your Fun: The game, as life, is full of people who's idea of fun you will not comprehend, let alone enjoy. So it's up to you to make it fun. If that's by earning wealth and traveling, or by sticking around some friends, or by singing silly ditties, then it's up to you to find your fun.
Guide Dang It!: The forums are filled with answers, and questions (many unanswered still). The wiki, more answers but not uptodate. The IRC channel, very sparsely populated. But, ask in game in character, on the forums, scour the wiki, and hope for someone to be on the IRC, and at worst, roll up your sleeves and find out.
The Non-Consent Rule: One of the more abusable and icky aspects, is that people can and will live out their rape fantasies and forcing everyone to react to it (Think Michael pulling a gun in his improv classes, but with more genitals). The weak justification for letting this in the game, is that the player has to Out of Character ask to rape first, or at least ask if they're over 18. In theory, this would keep it to a small part of the world, but when one player always seeks possible victims, and has 15 characters roaming the world ..... It can seem far more prevalent then one would like.
The game operates on a tick system. Every 3 RL hours, there's 1 cantr hour, and in each Cantr hour, there's the travel tick, sea travel tick, and project tick. It doesn't matter what you've done in the previous hour, just what you're doing when the tick hits. Takes some getting used to, but it's useful knowledge to have a good grasp of the mechanics. You can make life simpler by activating this tick timer instead. There's also Cantr enhanced, which provides a wide host of useful UI improvements, including its own version of the Tick timer.
This game provides examples of:
- 24-Hour Armor: Everybody wears shields, if they can afford them. Previously when repairing the shield periodically, this would mean the character didn't benefit from its protection, resulting in people having a 'repair shield' as well.
- After the End: With such a dwindling player base, a common joke is that this is what the game is simulating. Reinforced when reading about a thriving town and the reality is empty buildings and corpses with no explanation, just what news survived. And the ubiquitous flood of keys to old locks.
- Aerith and Bob: One particular stretch of coastline boasted towns named Rosenbury, Olipifirovash, Texas, and San D'Oria.
- Angrish: A favoured tactic of some players when their character is having a bad day. Yelling "RRRRRRRGGGH! You insulted Moss", is a timetested tactic of the type
- Ax-Crazy: The impression that new players can give, before they acclimate away from a kill em all attitude in other games. Of course, some players stay in this mode, until they get a chance to unleash. "Halt, thief of a sock! Taste steel!"
- Badass Boast: "(...Difficult endeavour will be undertaken, because) I have endless energy and no job."
- Big Brother Is Watching: Part of the allure is living in this sort of world, without the physical danger of this. If you come to the notice of staff, you *will* be punished, months later at their leisure.
- Calling Your Attacks: The polite way to mechanically attack someone, or when a more lighthearted RP scuffle, is to emote it out, letting the other person respond. But this may be left in the dust in more hectic combat moments.
- Critical Encumbrance Failure: A character cannot carry more than 15000 grams, barring a few workarounds. Travelling speed, whether in a vehicle or on foot decreases when they carry more.
- Easing into the Adventure: Averted, characters created by a new player face the same world and the same rules as anyone else.
- Elemental Crafting: In the few cases this applies, this is true. A steel knife deals more damage then a bone one, but there's no such thing as an iron battleaxe to compare to the steel battleaxe
- Everybody Has Lots of Sex: It's a roleplaying game on the internet. Do the math. See Fantasy Pantheon below, for a shoehorned ingame reason.
- Fantasy Pantheon: All religions are created by the players of the game. Some of them worship the creator of the game. One of the most notorious ones, is a simple copy paste of the Donii religion, which cheerfully ignores the fact that everyone spawns at 20, sex doesn't create children, there are no volcanoes, nor caves. But hey, since when did that stop someone waving their fetish around? Caveman rumpy ahoy!
- Fascist, but Inefficient: October 2016 will marksa year since a promise was made to clarify the Capital Rule, entailing significantly less writing or research then a short essay. This trope is the reason why 8 months later, not a single sentence has been written. One shining example of the level of action is possible in such an environment.
- Several towns that adopted repressive and harsh policies have been founded. Little of them remains but dust, old keys and notes.
- The Gadfly: Always enjoyable to play, with all the superserious drama hanging about, nudging them into a puddle of their own creation is entirely too much fun.
- Ghost Town: While the resources never run out, when the town becomes boring, or the people leave or die, then the town stops being anything but a museum. Locked buildings might still contain the corpses of their former owners. See After the End.
- Hide Your Children: Everyone spawns (the term generally used for when a new character is created) at the age of twenty. This doesn't stop some people acting like 2 year olds except when it comes to adult relations. Nothing says in-character like a child who can't operate a hammer, but bounces the bedsprings like a champ. Or would if beds with bedsprings were implemented.
- In-Universe Game Clock: One day passes ingame per real day. However there are 20 days in a year, 8 hours in a day, 36 minutes in an hour and 60 seconds in a minute. Can lead to confusion when planning things, having to clumsily word around Cantr hour and real hour, without breaking character.
- Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Averted, if you find a treasure it was most certainly hoarded by a different character sometime before.
- Ironic Hell: Step 1: Cut down many of the interesting players, ignore complaints, stifle discussion, discourage people from gushing about anything cool they've done. Step 2: Wait. Step 3: Act surprised when the game is boring, the problems have become significant, nobody notices the rare moment of interesting, and people have gone to other games where they can be appreciated for their works.
- Item Crafting: Everything in the game is crafted by players.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Averted, strangely. You can change at will your characters description, but there's no need to update it. Cue the very old (ingame term for someone over the age of 80 ingame years) 'looking' the precise same as when she was 22.
- Lamarck Was Right: Newspawn receive skills based on a random combination of the skills of other characters in the spawning location, with a random modifier. With a little detective work, you can find out your spawn parents (and thank them for that expert level Burying, Fishing and Carpentry, balancing out the awkward fighting and meager muscles.
- Life Imitates Art: A particularly odd meta example, blurred between this and its inverse. Spending several ingame years in a stifling, boring, murderous town, and seeing actions taken by the staff on the forums will seem very familiar, including outdated and poorly worded rules.
- Especially as being on staff conveys definite benefits to becoming and staying a town leader, ethics be damned.
- Like You Would Really Do It: Due to every character being played by a writer, this comes up a lot in game. "If you don't do what I want, I'll stop eating/go away/harm myself fatally", etc. Years (ingame, and in real life) later, they're still alive and kicking. In a meta sense, the forums crawl with announcements of players 'ruining' the game (including several of the disreputable staffers trying to blame the players for their imminent Rage Quit.)
- Mao: Possibly the only way to experience Mao without playing it, is to play Cantr. From the forum rules that are visible "Discussion of (rule breaking) is not allowed." "Only generalisation of rules is allowed" "Complaints about staff are to be made to staff, and only in private". There's a lot more rules that aren't available, not to mention it's a rare case when the player is informed of which rule was broken, or the evidence. The 'logic' behind, is that players who knew the rules, would evidently work their Loophole Abuse magic, as propounded by one staffer who is fondly referred to as the Goat Wormhole (You put in a valid argument, and the response is a goat. Any further comment is referred back to the goat. "What do you mean, it's not a good goat? See, four hooves and everything"). The game is a social simulator after all, and what better way to simulate North Korea and Soviet Russia then hiding the gamefield, until a misstep and Land Mine Goes "Click!".
- As further hilarity, the Players Department professed function is to 'guide' players when dealing with possible rule breaks. Yes, guide them, by standing on the other side of the minefield and shouting that everything is fine .... until it isn't.
- Country Matters: - One of the invisible rules that has been pieced together over the years, is to never use this word, or imply it tangentially. This especially can come across a little bizarre, when placed side by side with several potentially Squicky subjects, including Master/Slave-chat, assassination attempts, corpse cuddling (and sometimes more) and more 'children' characters acting out their owners Lolita fantasies.
- From the game creator: "It's very important that we make that very explicit, so that we do not suggest that people cannot criticize staff. That's bad." From a recently promoted staffmember "Any further criticism will result in a ban". Have fun walking the line!
- Don't touch the staff's precious snowflake town, known as Smoku (The other name is hideously out of place). Any actions taken in regard to this town are under the microscope, and if deemed against the staff's interest, welll......
- Tall Poppy Syndrome: Most games, your reward for being sociable, amusing, interesting and engaging is to have people acknowledge that, and be appropriately appreciative, right? Here, you get labelled as 'highly influential' (if you're not on the side of staff, of course), and harrassed and bumped off at earliest convenience. So, be interesting, but don't outshine The Prima Donna staffmembers, or it's a boot on the neck for you, comrade!
- MayDecember Romance: Nothing (not even a marriage) stops the local octogenarians from banging the 'Spawned twenty minutes ago'. Enough of this occurs for it to be enshrined in some town culture and laws, that newspawns don't have to partner up in the first few days and you won't get chased out of town if you don't take up anyone's 'offer'. And it would be rude of the newspawn to not accept every 'offer'. All Men Are Perverts, All Women Are Lustful : The game!
- More Friends, More Benefits: Inverted "I think it would be difficult to stop people from using this to group together with friends." Meaning if you have contact outside of the game, you're automatically under suspicion of cheating, because players (in the staffs opinion) will always cheat. As is standard, this hasn't stopped staff from maintaining normal human relations with the world, yet players don't get to have the same privilege AND not be under suspicion of inappropriate behaviour.
- Nobody Poops: Hunted and domesticated animals can produce dung, though. You can vomit once a day, emptying your stomach and showing appreciation to the people around.
- Out-of-Character Moment: As mentioned previously, for when the player (as differentiated from the character) needs to speak to other players (again, different from characters), the standard of OOC: is used. This hasn't stopped longwinded rants when the player (different from character) has been upset or annoyed by some ingame event, and decided to use the power of Talking Is a Free Action. An especially egregious and amusing for all involved example, involved the word Shutup, 87 times in the space of a minute.
- As an excellent example of out of char talk, without the etiquette or politeness of using OOC: <I>A woman who is very old says: "*she shakes her head slowly* I can't keep up with all the conversations going on. (literally 39 rolls of my mouse wheel o_o)" </I> She prefers a simpler solution to problems. For reference, over a 3 hour period this was as much talking as in a moderately active chatroom. Or 5 minutes with the Gilmore Girls.
- Other examples include characters loudly stating that incharacter actions were ruining the game and they would quit and everyone elses actions were incredibly disrupting and rude.
- Passive-Aggressive Kombat: One of the more entertaining ways of dealing with another characters antics. While it may be a Curb-Stomp Battle, it's certainly more entertaining for the other characters around.
- Parental Incest: An odd and Squick-inducing commonality, is for people to RP as a 'family'. That doesn't stop this, or this. A part of why most players refuse to act like a family, because of the taste these Big, Screwed-Up Family leave in the mouth, mind and history.
- Permadeath: Dead characters remain so. Except for several times when a server rollback caused many dead characters to rise up, and stand quietly until they died. Again.
- Running the Asylum: As mentioned in the introduction, the creator has largely left the game, leaving it to some staff to manage things. Over time, this has resulted in what has been referred to as the Internet Illness. Basically, any normal person getting a chance to live out their powertrip fantasies, and going for broke. Hilarity Ensues
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: See above. This is part of what makes the game fascinating, watching the mental gymnastics performed to justify punishing one person and not another, for the same infraction.
- Schizo Tech: Your most valued tool might be a dungfork, your vehicle is a stationwagon and you're on the lookout for olives. Another character might be riding a horse, swinging a steel axe and pushing around a combine harvester. A third has gold, rubies, steel, and every night washes himself with animal fat soap. It smells foul
- Serious Business: How some stories can come across. Boyfriend left town without saying goodbye three times? Better get on the radio and call him heartless. Running low on food (as in, only four years left)? Conscript all the locals, into some cooking project to save the world. Someone said your beer tastes like piss? Only response is to threaten them with death, while proclaiming its healthful benefits. See Internet Tough Guy
- Sex Slave: You might get dragged into a dark shack to be this for some 'character'. Bear in mind that simply ignoring that character, and not playing into the persons fantasy is a valid response. Yes, it's a twisted game in many respects.
- Shared Family Quirks: "Pry gonna pry something". "Pry good idea".
- More explanation. This family/group/clan has a habit of dropping most of the letters away from probably, and talking about the most inane subjects for hours on end. Hence their nickname of, the Pry Clan.
- Special Snowflake Syndrome: Like you would not believe. Characters have walked into towns and asked if there was a plague, from all the stuttering, limbs missing, sobbing and wailing. No, just a Tuesday.
- State Sec: Hand in hand with Big Brother Is Watching. One of the more blatant abuses involved the banning (Unperson, comrade of several players for daring to +1 in a thread that asked for information, publicly. The staff member hasn't logged in since, but waits for the next call of their master.
- Stepford Smiler: "Hey guys, lets keep a tone of positivity in the air! Quick, everyone state their favourite moment of this year!" Cue quietness.
- Comes up in-game in towns with particularly strict rules. No theft or violence, is fairly standard, but when the rules are from the reign of a previous emperor who was in the midst of turning his subjects into an art project, and the citizens who had no ability to flee had to grin and hope for the best.
- Streisand Effect: "No further posts (about) the tropes page will be honored or allowed. They will be deleted without comment and warnings will be issued to the posters. We have seen greater measures taken and do not fear them again." Cue a dramatic upswell in the visitors to the trope entry.
- Stylistic Suck: The only possible explanation for some of the promotional artwork for the game. For instance, an official bit of art, intended to promote the game on a milestone date. Compare to the fanmade reaction, highlighting the flaws in it.
- Talking Is a Free Action: You can be sewing, driving a car, eating food and listening to the radio. Doesn't stop the character from using their iron lungs to expound a wall of words on whatever subject is foremost in their mind, only limit being how fast the player can type. Or paste into the textbox.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: What often can happen when sleepers (players who barely wake up, thus don't really know what's going on around them), new characters or new players get promoted to leadership roles. Special mention must go to the man who chased a boat ... in a van. Needless to say, he didn't achieve very much, but became the butt of jokes for a long, long time. See also Ax-Crazy, for the other mode guards switch between.
- The Landbased Zuzi Navy has always been a force to be feared. Doubly amusing, as they were chasing pirates, who did do things.
- Unexplained Recovery: In at least one known case, a friend of a staff member was brought back to life to prevent him from being killed by pirates.
- Unusual Euphemism: Be well, kind regards, best wishes. Standard signoffs from staff, after handing down arbitrary judgements with flimsy justifications, the implications when reading through the rest of the message is "Go away and die, little bug". Collect the set! Bonus points if Angrish is making the nonsensical even moreso.
- Wide Open Sandbox: As the terrible intro trailer stated, be the most famous politician, feared village idiot, lovable rogue, etc. Truth is while these are possible, they are very very difficult, simply because of player inertia. But so much more worthwhile when they happen, because of that.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Another tactic, guaranteed to get sympathy. Or encourage the more ..... violent members of the community to try and pull a Dexter. Or The Silence of the Lambs. Or Psycho. Hell, pick a serial killer trope, and we've got/had some iteration of it.