October 1999


Dr. Twister weighs in on the God-I-Don’t-Want-To-Make-Up-A-Name-For-This story. Check it out.

He also reports a story I’ve been sitting on while waiting for more confirmation. Namely that Origin is laying off their ENTIRE QA TEAM when U9 hits the door (which happened Friday) and COMPLETELY relying on volunteer labor to bugtest EVERY SINGLE UPCOMING ORIGIN RELEASE.

According to my informant, the feeling among those being laid off is that it is solely to avoid paying out bonuses and vesting that comes with being with the company over 7 years. Up until this point, the QA team had worked 12 hour days 7 days a week, so it wasn’t like there is any lack of work. Since the only project that’s made money for Origin in over 4 years has been UO, Origin’s corporate heads are scrambling to make every project in the pike conform to the “successful” UO model. There will be NO internal QA for UO2. NONE.

This is, um, unprecedented among professional gaming companies. Of course, the history of QA testing for UO has not been among the most stellar, but if you were worried about OSI being committed to the Volunteer Program, wonder no more.

They have staked their corporate future on it. Woo woo!


Although my xrgaming.net email is still nuked as a result of the Great UGO Server Move, this was sent to my old address. As always, comment, etc. I’ll have a poll up once the server foolishness settles down so you can make your opinion on the future direction of this site known in a slightly more scientific fashion.

In regards to your current use of the volunteer program as target practice, you are generalizing a system that is based on charity. The people that wear the robes are contributing their time and effort, with very little compensation, to providing a service for those who wish to use it.

For you to so callously and carelessly take a few instances and use them to tear down the entire program is all at once sickening and malicious. The majority of those involved with the Counselor and Seer programs do it out of the goodness of their heart, in an attempt to make the game you play a little bit better. You can use any amount of propaganda and circumstance to conjure the impression that everyone involved is either power-hungry or elitist, but when it comes down to it, they receive nothing but flak from you and your counterparts, and saving ten dollars a month is small compensation for the general disrespect the term “volunteer” now carries.

In fact, if you really were so concerned about the current state of affairs, you’d take it upon yourself to apply for a position. If you have such an insight as to how the organization should be run, and the
methods a volunteer should use, then securing a place among their ranks and leading by example is much more productive than standing off on your pedestal and preaching from the safety of ignorance.

Not to mention many of the volunteers you have so often slandered have done far more for the community than you pretend. In fact, I would invite you to do a little background work on a few of your “victims”, and discover that other than one or two indiscretions,
they did exemplary work and contributed much to the world of Britannia, both past and present.

Prejudice against an entire group based on the actions of a few is at once both narrow and shallow. Unless you want to become Ultima’s version of Archie Bunker, I would suggest taking a second look at the situation, and re-evaluating your stance.

Or ride a bike. God knows you need to.

-Kieran Darkmire, Reporter for the Atlantic Times


Leaving aside for the moment the hysterical images a 350lb Lum paddling down the street conjures, let’s look at the rest of this message.

So the counselors are poor, misunderstood volunteers, giving up their time and effort for little more than altruism. Uh huh.

Well, in the real world, the one I happend to live in, there is no such thing as altruism.

What, you say? But Lum, *I’m* a counselor, and the *only* reason I do it is to help people! You suck! Go on a diet!

By “there’s no such thing as altruism”, I mean that there is always a motive, no matter how pure it may be. Given the ideal circumstance, that someone sincerely likes to help people, and sees this as an opportunity to do so, they are not doing this out of a divine sort of altruism. They do it because helping people makes them feel better. This isn’t bad – it’s human nature.

Given human nature, I suspect there are a few folks involved with the program that have somewhat baser motivations. Such as being part of the “in crowd”, being “elite”, being higher in the “chain of command” than the average player, being part of the “inside”, having “access.”

Whether you choose to admit it or not, these are quite valid reasons. And ones that, from any objective viewpoint, have been quite prevalent in the OSI Volunteer Program.

Why is this a problem? Refer back to my recent postings. Yes, they were pretty damned tawdry. However, as a certain Special Prosecutor might say in a similar circumstance, while unsavory, this was necessary to establish motive. For the crime involved isn’t that of GMs sleeping with SRCs – other than in a prurient Jerry Springer sort of way, no one really cares who’s zooming who, and it’s all totally unable to be proven if they did – but that of GMs then turning around and giving special favors to those SRCs and others, such as deleting property placed by players for their friends, introducing one-hit-killer weapons into the game for their friends, and other game-corrupting events.

Refer back to the Montes Darkwisp story I posted from Everquest. There the stakes are higher. How much do you think a Butcherblock Hammer, the best weapon currently in the game, would sell for on e-Bay? How do you feel, knowing that, knowing that certain guilds tried to influence who would get that hammer, using their influence in the EQ Guide program?

This isn’t about sex, it isn’t about who’s in what IRC channel. It is about the corruption of a virtual community. And that should concern you, even if who’s sleeping with who shouldn’t. Because while UO is only a game, it is also a community of people, which by dint of reading this you happen to belong to. And while corruption may be a fact of life in “real life”, this does not mean that this is something that must be tolerated in the virtual world.

I have gotten a large number of emailed and ICQed personal attacks in the past few days – the one posted above is quite mild compared to others. And all that tells me is that I’m on the right track. Poke the anthill, and watch what scurries out into the light.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. There is a rich history in the MUD world of this sort of tawdry corruption involved when volunteers operate the support system. And the BBS scene before that was much the same. I’m working on researching examples of this. If you have any, send them to me (send them to lum@webtoys.net if my xrgaming.net address bounces).

I never said that every single individual counselor was corrupt.

I said the system is corrupt. And it is.


You know, when I posted the story below, I didn’t think the main story was the ongoing sexual hijinks between (mostly male) GMs and (mostly female) smurfs. These kind of rumors have been going on since pretty much UO began. And as anyone who was around for the BBS scene in the early 90s can tell you, this is by no means nothing new. Give any geek a small snippet of power and they turn into Henry VIII faster than you can say “jus primae noctis”.

So I guess you all missed the part where the ex-SRC mentioned the one-hit killer weapons and twinked characters given to her as party favors.

It’s all about corruption. We have an obviously mismanaged, totally unsupervised GM staff who see their job description as macking on the more flirtatious smurfs when not busy PKing their customers. (Yes, that story was confirmed too. Gee, I guess Dr. Twister gets some things right once in a while. Oh, and check out the story of the GMs screwing with a player town while you’re there.)

And of course the smurfs themselves are all to eager to assuage these netp1mps‘ egos. Considering that most of the smurfs in question are older than most of the GMs, it’s really hard to see them as helpless exploited maidens. Especially when they then brag about what they got for their services. (Of course, there’s a word for that, and it’s not a pretty one.)

But you know who is really to blame here? It’s not Origin, it’s not the smurfs, it’s not even the GMs.

It’s you.

This is a community problem… our problem. We tolerate this corruption in our midst; by our silence we become a co-conspirator. I know for damned sure I have heard of this kind of rot for months now; many of you have as well. And in case you think the SRC below is an isolated phenomenon — she is only in that she is the only one brave and/or angry enough to actually come forward and allow her story to be posted. I’ve gotten dozens, dozens of confirmations of her story from many people associated with the program, past and present.

We knew this was going on. We did nothing to stop it.

So. What is to be done, then?

I’ve met the staff Origin hired earlier this year to clean house. I believe that they really want to run an honest game. (I mean, why wouldn’t they? Do you want to go to work every day saying “Hmm, today I think I’ll lie, cheat and exploit my customers!”) It’s time to let them do their job.

Many of you have written me about the abuses you’ve witnessed in the volunteer program. And many of you haven’t, because you didn’t want me to publish it for everyone to see, or maybe because you think Dr. Twister and I are two sides of the same coin.

Or maybe you just didn’t think it was important, that it is just a game, nothing much to really be worked up over. I trust that the past few days has corrected that. These are real people getting caught in the maelstrom.

All of you, it’s time to do the right thing.

Collect your evidence, all of it and ship it off to the following email address:


This is monitored by the folks who can take action in this matter. It will not be read by GMs, or SRCs, or SLCs. And it will not be ignored.

The question is, what are you going to do about it?

REQUIEM FOR A VOLUNTEER [Author: wirehead]

In the past 2 days I have been swamped with letters, from former and current counselors, SRCs, and seers. Every single one of them backing up my position that the volunteer program is rotten to the core. (Then again, those who disagree with me have probably already given up on my heathen soul.) Here is one letter from a former high-ranking member of the volunteer program which takes everything I’ve heard about the corruption in the ranks, wraps it up in a neat ball, and throws it at your head.

Note that as always, this is one person’s story, and is biased and of course, unconfirmable. But you might find some insight within, both on what we’ve heard the past couple of days and on the volunteer program in general. I know I did.

I am not looking for absolution – as I am proud of my dedication and contribution to UO – but I think I am looking for someone to say, “Geez, you know, don’t beat yourself up for being a sucker”.

I have been a part of the support program for quite a while, beginning as one of the first counselors. I have seen so much of what goes on behind the scenes at OSI that I feel like I have walked the halls. In the beginning there was so much excitement, we were going to wear *robes* and help people, and we didn’t care that OSI still charged it’s volunteers 9.95 a month to do that.

About 6 months after the counseling program started, we inherited Bassanio, and I gotta say, Bassman, was by far the best leader we ever had. He wasn’t an ass, he wasn’t full of himself, and he was a people person. He came up with the idea of Senior Counselors. They approached me, and I accepted of course, as I thought being part of the *elite* was going to be cool. And do not let anyone fool you, yes, we did think we were special, and yes we did trash the counselors behind their backs. We had our own room, and more often than not make fun of the folks we thought were losers.

Male GM’s started to become friendlier with female counselors – flirting started, favors started. I received a castle for free from a former GM. All because I flirted with him. Another GM gave me 10k ore, so make money. The internet is a very powerful place, and the GM’s were looked to as gods, and to be on their good side was a good thing. I heard snippets of female counselors (younger ones) saying GM’s had called them at home, and phone sex was kinda fun. I thought that was amusing. A part of me was envious that these young girls got all the attention, but hey, I was just lucky to be where I was.

The reign of terror began when Bassanio stepped down — and who can blame him, we grew by leaps and bounds, and it was too much for one person to handle. So we inherited IronWill. Who in the beginning, was a cool GM, but once he got the title of Lead of Volunteers, he became an asshole. He made comments in #uo-council publicly against those he felt were beneath him, which was pretty much everyone. The GM’s formed a PK group during this time, and they were sworn to secrecy about it. They made characters and super charged them, gave them goofy names and they went on regular rampages and killed players on purpose. For fun. To release stress. GM Ja, GM Treefrog, GM IronWill, GM Datura, who is now GM Gabrielle, and I believe there was a GM Bunny, (who is not to be confused with Shard Lead Hellbunny) they were part of this group. There was a lot of drinking going on at work. Many GM’s were on duty drunk or stoned. They would convey that to us in IRC. SRC Zaronia made a trip in about this time period (thanksgiving I think) to go see GM JA, she and he were on line lovers I guess. Well I am not sure if he chickened out or what, but one look at her — and I think he freaked, and he ditched her. Treefrog came to her rescue and he rescued her all right, for an entire week — in bed — she says they didn’t get out much, except to drink. She also bailed his ass out of jail for a DUI — she had to call OSI — and Treefrogs mother to get the money back she paid to bail him out. I am thinking about now GM JA is glad he didn’t follow through with his plan of sacking her. I know Ironwill was really angry at Zaronia, as they were close personal friends, I suspect he liked her and she didn’t return the favor – or maybe she did – and he wanted more, who knows. But that’s one of the reasons she wasn’t chosen the first time around as an SRC. She went to Texas, and didn’t hang with Ironwill. I was approached by another counselor, named Sonya, who wanted to know about Treefrog, I laughed and said, “Well don’t let him break your heart”, she said she’d been carrying on a hot steamy phone relationship with him for a while – and was going to meet him. I laughed to myself, as I thought, “his bed is still warm from Zaronia, and he’s scheming for another counselor” Treefrog used to talk to me, I think much like I was his way older sister, and I used to laugh at his antics. You know, even though he was screwed up, he was a good guy, he had no hidden agenda, he wanted to screw chicks and this was a tool to do it with. And those he didn’t screw, he gave stuff to. SRC Boots, got all kinds of stuff from him in game, she was one of the ones who helped get him fired. She felt it was her duty to step forward and speak up and say what he did was wrong. I don’t know, I wasn’t there, I didn’t see their logs, but I bet he fooled around with her too.

Fast forward – March of 99 maybe April

So now we have Jack Wood as our Arch Counselor, I believe that is his title. He started out like the others, he promised that things would get better. Terendil took a liking to him, and soon she had him in her back pocket. No one can prove if anything went on between the two, but he sure couldn’t say no to her, no matter what stunts she pulled.

In May the SRC’s/SLC’s went to Austin for a field trip. Most of them behaved themselves. Some didn’t. SRC Sonya who started out a hot and heavy love affair with an SLC, allowed him to pay for her ticket and the hotel room, but when she got there and saw him in person, she said, “NO WAY”. She called IronWill and he came to her rescue. They stayed in bed for a week she said. She says he is incredible. Not at all like he is in game. I again, was laughing my ass off at this soap opera. She had fantasies in her head of moving to Texas and setting up house with him — He thought a good time was had by all, and left it at that. Now, OSI is really about perception, talk about two totally different interpretations and perceptions. Sonya was a piece of work, she worked more GM’s than you could shake a stick at. You should have seen her house, it was totally decked out. She bragged about all the stuff GM’s gave her. Zaronia went on that trip as well. She disappeared with SRC Kurse, who now works for OSI. Sonya says they had a *good time*, Zar says they just had a *fun* time. Terendil I believe, laid her resume out for all to see in Texas, as she wanted a job at OSI — who knows with her…she was one psycho SLC – was hell, she still is.

Finally I said I had enough, it wasn’t fun anymore, it was political, it was shady, and I felt dirty. This was no longer what it was supposed to be.

So what did I get out of this?

7 characters on 7 shards who are GM’d 7 times, all do to game masters altering my stats. I never worked for my stats.

No houses, because I didn’t feel it was right for a GM to delete a house to place mine, although I was told, “Give me the word and it’s yours”

Many deeds – many many deeds.

More money than you could count.

Several one hit weapons that were given to me specifically from GM’s.

On my last day — I gave out deeds like candy, people went crazy. All my armor was given away. There were several pieces custom dyed that weren’t to give out. I gave away my money. But the one thing I didn’t do, was give away the weapons. I put them in a sack and took them in the middle of the forest and placed them under a log, and watched them rot. I guess I was unscrupulous, but not all the way.

Oh and before I left, like in July, Zaronia was making plans again – this time to go visit a very single SLC Teserax. Thankfully, he didn’t bite — but maybe he did, she allowed him into her account, gave him her password, with the understanding he’d maintain her account while she was on leave. She says he took liberties, she also says that SRC Tigger admits her son got into that same account, (as Tigger and Zar were at one time tight and she too gave her password to Tigger) and trashed all Zaronia’s characters. So that’s how her characters were “raped” as her spouse said.

What else can I tell you — Terendil states she received a written agreement from OSI to work at home for 2k a month working on their companion program. Terendil claims once she met her first goal, that Durga, told her move to Texas or you can’t have the job and reneged on the job offer. This may be why Terendil gets away with murder, OSI is afraid they will sue her.

I made a lot of friends at OSI and I know I made enemies. But I always took responsibility and told the truth. It makes me sad these folks don’t do the same.

I am telling you it’s a very corrupt organization. On one hand they turn their hands and allow their GM’s to abuse their power and use it in exchange for stuff and sex, but on the other, they will fire an employee who has almost 7 years in their company (7 years is the magic number for vesting and bonuses at OSI) for downloading a program after hours.

I just don’t get it, Lum, do you?

Unfortunately, I do get it. All too well.


Well, this story suddenly grew legs and jumped all over the room, didn’t it.

I really hesitated to publish Zaronia’s story. I get about a dozen like them a day, all with poor grammar and punctuation, all various degrees of what I like to call “OSI Fucked My Monkey And Didn’t Even Leave A Banana”. Most of them I read and file. This one caught my eye for some reason. So I cleaned up the grammar and spelling (like I do on almost every long story I file, for the ease of your reading, not to make them appear any more likeable or believable) and posted it without comment.

Now. Here’s where it gets painful. I think overall Origin has been doing a commendable job of trying to cleaning up the cesspool that is the Volunteer Program. But it’s still a cesspool.

If you think I delight in dragging smurfs into the mud, let me tell you, if I posted ONE PERCENT of the rumors I get, you would vomit. Let’s just say that if ANYTHING I am getting from MULTIPLE sources are true, the relations all the way down the hierarchy, from the GMs all the way down to the newest smurf, make Melrose Place look like a monastery.

I firmly believe that Origin’s Volunteer program is fatally flawed, in concept and in execution, and should be abolished. It encourages the worst of our community – the cliquishness, the in-fighting, the gossip, the influence peddling.

For every volunteer that works their ASS off for no pay, and no thanks, to help those who play UO, there’s someone who’s there because they get off on what little raw power the Program gives them access to. Hundreds of little Hitlers, playing out their “office politics” games, trading influence and favors for anything they have… gossip, sex, money, and most often, and most sadly, simple human companionship.

You want to know why I keep “going off on the smurfs?” Because this is wrong. The system that we have allowed to build up, that encourages the worst power-mongering among those who supposedly volunteer to serve us, is wrong. Morally wrong. And for every sign that it’s getting better, we get another sign that no, it’s still sunk in the mire of human frailty.

Like this one. Is SRC Zaronia telling the truth? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. Is she blameless herself? Hell no. She said herself that she was personally involved with GMs, even to the point of bailing one out of jail, and that she traded on that influence to gain information that normal players never would, namely who accessed her account. And it stretches credulity that Origin would actually be able to tell from IP addresses which SRCs were hacking her account.

But the story isn’t so much in those details as in the thoughts, feeling and anger behind them. Could you see 2 SRCs conspiring with a GM to totally trash another SRC’s account out of spite?

Yeah, me too.

UPDATE ON SRC HACK STORY [Author: wirehead]

Most folks who’ve responded to the story below of the person who found her towers transfered and characters ruined didn’t believe it. Here’s what ex-SRC Zaronia, who decided to go public, has to say in response.

Again, there are three sides to every story, and this is one of them.

Hi, I am the X src zaronia. on other shards for a short time I was Sweets or angleyes this is the story of my uo life the reason I hasted to post this was because they threating me and told me the would ban my accounts and delete my tower I did receive my tower back because I was good friends with all GMS and they knew my tower form the guild we started on GL that is why the story that you posted is now out I no longer have a account on GL or any shard I canceled them all because there was no way to rebuild what I lost or remake all the gold and weapons I had so I hope other players believe what I wrote to you and what you posted.

I am sorry they are flaming you about this post, until something happens to them they will not understand. All names will be posted tonight. I dont want to but if that is what it takes then that will be done.


Something else, in addition to everything else going on (I know, what with SRCs hacking accounts and Lord British shooting at killer whale-loving intruders it’s hard to keep up) that is irking folks are the announced plans by Origin to delete characters that haven’t been played in 3 months.

It’s hard for me to get worked up about this. I mean, if you haven’t played a character in 3 months, chances are good you’re, I don’t know, not playing that character. Maybe it’s just me. I also don’t really see how character data is just overwhelming Origin’s data storage. There’s not a whole lot of information on CHARACTERS stored, I’d think, as opposed to data on the WORLD the characters live in. Again, maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, the positively verbose Dread Lord Calandryll had this to say on the subject, again on CoB:

I wanted to make sure all of you know that we are going to post on the patch server. 🙂

This is not something we plan on doing in the near future. The communication was a heads-up to let you all know this is coming rather than just post about it a week before it goes active.

“Refreshing” a character is a lot like refreshing a house. As long as you do it during normal server time (not right before it goes down) then the character won’t be deleted. Since the timeframe is 3 months, refreshing a character once a month will virtually assure that it is kept. Also, as I’ve said before, simply through normal game play you will “refresh” the vast majority (if not all) of your characters just by the simple fact that you play them.

We’ll be posting more information about how the system will work. You will have plenty of time to give us feedback on the specifics of the system before we implement it. 🙂


Got this note. Yes, it is one side of a story, but if even 5% of it is true (and frankly, it seems authentic to me), Origin has some cleaning up to do.

Hello all, this will be a lengthy read, but some very interesting stuff here, and you all pay 10 bucks a month for this 🙂

As a small background, I started playing UO in beta, heavily addicted as final came out despite the bugs, played many hours a day. Being newly married, my wife was interested in what was occupying so much of “our” time. Due to a screwed up noto system, I became red in one spell, and started feeding a beggar. My wife seeing what I was doing gladly offered to do this for me while I was at work (great wife) — after a week or so of this, she then demanded her own acct, and her own computer to play it on. I gladly said yes, built her a system and we were on our way 🙂

She played fairly timidly, but loved helping others and interacting with people. A couple of months later, counselor apps were being accepted. I scoffed at it, she quickly filled one out. I thought nothing of it til a month later she was overly excited. She was accepted into the counselor program, it was her fondest UO dream come true.

During the next 18 months, she lived and breathed OSI, counseled into wee hours of the morning, did anything asked of her, went to texas several times (bailed a GM out of rl jail, for gods sakes). There was nothing this woman wouldn’t/didn’t do for the program, or anyone in this program that she called “friend” which was many.

In March of this year she broke her hand, which severely limited her in her online duties. At this time she requested less duties, responsibilities etc. She was told with a smile from her “friends” that all will be well, take care of yourself, etc. etc.

Now, a tad more background. I myself from playing soo long and running a very large guild had acquired much property on Great Lakes — 2 towers(96k each) placed eons ago. When my wife told me of an all counselors player’s guild for Great Lakes that was in the works, I gladly let her use one of the towers for it. She seemed excited to actually play with these people. The people played for like a week… then stopped… was just my wife playing on Great Lakes again, nonetheless the tower stayed until July, at which time I sold my main acct (the one with that tower on it).

Time passed, my wife and I started playing EQ kinda heavily, only logged onto UO to refresh stuff basically. So… in the beginning of September, I log on to refresh the tower (which for simplicity sake I had placed ownership to my wifes acct), and lo and behold… it says.. that’s locked you dont have a key… hmmmm methinks… I call my wife and say… um wtf is up wit da tower 🙂

She logs on her chars… one by one… I can hear her voice ready to break down in tears… all her chars are ghosts… logged in INNs… mising bout 30% of their stats/skills… all her chars.. both of her accts.

Now… so far I know you’re saying… damn, that sucks to get hacked etc etc, but… there was someone who knew her password… an old one…for one of the accts…but not the other… hmmm. Plot thickens i guess… well, at this point I’m pretty pissed, cause the reality is, everything in that tower was mine… the guy who actually played UO and didnt counsel…

So, I know my neighbors well… ask him to tell me who he sees in my tower, about the same time, my wife is on the phone with OSI, a gm friend of hers, probably only real friend she had amongst them, well..theres this neat thing OSI can do… they can tell you whose IP logged into your acct. Normally requires an FBI summons to make them do so, but this guy either by mistake or out of friendship, tells her who was on her acct, about the same time I found out the names of the ppl in the tower…..*drumroll*

Welp, it was 2 of OSI’s employees… yessir… 2 SRCs… basically raped my wife’s acct and her characters.

Off with their heads, I scream (I wasn’t surprised, however). She continues talking with her friend, at this point… shes really pissed, but wants her stuff back (my tower) so she is told to logon and call the gm, will be taken care of. She logs on… calls…. waits waits waits… finally GM Clyde sends a message “Sorry, there’s nothing we can do about that” (sound familiar?). So… a couple of days later (many minutes of long distance) a tower comes back to us…. all of her chars are trashed… everything banks etc skills done, they do nothing for that….oh, they also add, and this is the kicker, if you post anything about this incident…we will delete that tower… how’s that for customer service?

Oh…what happened to their employees that commited a federal offense by hacking someones acct? Glad you asked…. nothing happened to either of them….they are still working for OSI…and you 🙂

Why should you care?

Welp…heres the thing, there was absolutely no way that either of these SRCs had her password — acct names…yes, thats public knowledge to an src,which means one of 2 things. Either a… they plugged away for passwords… or b…used their insideness with OSI to aquire them… either option means criminals have access to your accts, and if they take yours, OSI wont do squat 🙂