I’ve started exploring The RolePlayWorlds grid, an OpenSim based grid which uses PayPal as their virtual economy. For each US$1 you get OS$100 for use in their world, the exchange rate is about 3x the going rate of US to Linden dollars used on the Second Life grid, though people adjust their for sale item prices accordingly. The RPW grid has basically 4 themed “mainlands” which are interconnected, yet somewhat confusingly referred to as individual grids– here’s a quick rundown of each theme:
1- The Fantasy Grid consists of Fantasy/Elf, built around a massive terraformed Labyrinth, with something like Jared’s castle in the center of it, which doubles as housing for the elf folk, and resident “monster” avatars (e.g., minotaurs) who have their homes placed within the maze. This setup encourages some unique role-play scenarios!
2- The Vampire grid centers around a Avalon style castle, not much is known of the realm or its inhabitants, but wonderfully dark vampire role-play is to be found here 😉
3- The Gor grid centers around the City of Ar, a completely massive 10 sim build, and other cities from John Norman’s series of about 30 books. The Gorean worlds are part high-tech sci-fi, part medieval era “counter-earth” and are spread across other huge sim builds, of varying terrain and environments, which follow the elaborate caste and dual government systems as taken from the stories, mainly consisting of warriors and slaves, yet also priests, merchants, assassins, doctors, builders, wild tribal people, outlaws, etc.
4- The Oasis grid is a collection of romantic, tropical themed islands and retreats for humans to relax, rejuvenate, or do other loving things with friends and loved ones, as well provides a neutral area for people of the different species or races to coexist OOC 🙂
There’s an interesting twist about Land ownership on RPW in that most areas are governed by a ruling clan or group which has to completes challenges or battle other prospective clans to maintain their “position” and in-world status, the results simply are that a victorious clan becomes (or maintains) ownership of said land, while a losing clan or group loses title! Thus battles of good role-play are not only encouraged, but are somewhat required to obtain and maintain good plots of virtual land (as I understand it..)
In order to login to the 3D world of RolePlayWorlds, you need to create an avatar account (similar to setting up one for Linden Labs’ Second Life, yes, the client/server relationship is a close comparison) at their website http://grid.roleplayworlds.net. After you confirm a valid email and get activation, you may login to http://roleplayworlds.net/ directly to manage your login account, though mostly you’ll be logging into the world with your chosen viewer (like other OpenSimulator based grids, the “Impudence” viewer is is highly recommended).
Your initial avatar (noob) appearance will be that of a female “Ruth” and this comes regardless of your chosen race or sex.
Not to worry, some good freebee areas abound and you’ll quickly find suitable body parts, clothing, and attachments to customize your look.
There is a central shopping center (The Sunset Mall) as well, builders and merchants check this out: You can pick your own 100 prim storefront there and sell your wares completely free, no initial fees or monthly tier payments required! 🙂
RPW Network is new, and they just went through a massive update from the earlier 0.6 to newer 0.7 server, but with the scope and quality of the builds, as well good availability of items for residents, this may very well be the best grid for roleplayers since Second Life.
Granted, since the use of real-world money is enabled and encouraged in RPW, it is a “closed” type of grid.
(By the term “closed grid” I mean to say: 1- you can’t take your own self-managed server and connect it into their grid, 2- their inventory system and regions are managed by their own admins, and of course 3- like SL, you can buy and rent one of their managed sims)
Closed systems are generally done so to protect the copyrights/commerce of their merchants, as well, since real-world money is involved, the grid needs to protect itself from those who would want to hook into it for the purpose of fraud or self-generating virtual money which may then be exchanged into real world currency..
Note that by default, OpenSim avatars are given OS $10,000 upon account creation, which would easily mean US$1,000 to an unscrupulous hacker (if the monetary exchange worked in both directions, which in this case it does not.. AFAIK!)