I see a kid standing in front of a play house. A wooden tree house sheltered underneath a bunch of old oak trees. It is a cool autumn evening; the leaves are beginning to turn, and a quick breath goes into me as I fold my arms to keep warm from the early cold front sweeping south.
But my attention is on a kid standing in front of the house. A sudden wind sweeps across the yard and slams into the weak structure, whipping a window shutter open, and then slamming it closed again.
But there is no one to tack it down. There is no one to keep it up.
I shake my head-- that isn't true. Suddenly, my attention is drawn to another kid walking across a yard much like the one I am standing on-- this kid is a good distance from me, but I immediately see a connection between the kid nearest me and the other person. He too stands in front of a play fort-- in much the same condition as the nearest one. A sixth sense tingles in my brain, and I whirl around. I can barely believe my eyes as I see a whole valley of kids, each one standing in front of a broken house. Some merely sorrowful, some weeping softly, others crying openly.
But my attention again turns to the boy nearest me. He walks slowly over to one of the other kids, and whispers in his ear something. They both walk to a third, and whispers something in her ear. Together they all walk to a fourth, and soon, a crowd of fifty or more is gathered in front of one area. Together they picked the spot- they would together build a new house!
Tattered remenents of websites scattered across the web tell the story, defying the statement: "The dead tell no tales". On the contrary, the dead tell more than what the living remainder do. A simple Google search will tell you that.
The current status of the system can be analyzed with simple common sense. We have (for example) five hundred people active in the ROC. We have 500 websites. We have 500 kids standing in front of 500 tree houses. A tree house isn't much fun without someone else. Neither is a forum when there is only one person there.
Something is wrong here.
These days, everyone has a vision for a revolutionary Redwall website that will change the face of the ROC, and many have acted on it. I had ideas like that once as well. Unfortunately, this is what's causing the problem-- too many forts, not enough kids to play in them.
That's why I have come from my long absence. This has been (the truth) on my heart for a while. "It's just a book!" you say. But no. It's not just a hobby, it's something I have deep connection with.
We need to compromise. When the Founding Fathers went from the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution, the delegates advocating State's Rights had to make sacrifices in order for the betterment of all the states. They had to put away their selfish desires and act on what would be best. And if my opinion is worth anything: each state is worth far more now than it ever could have been on it's on. So each person with a forum needs to compromise for the better good. Perhaps it means creating a joint forum with someone else. Perhaps it means getting together with several people and creating one. If every RPing forum came together, I would be willing to bet that there would be more than enough activity to justify going there every day.
We also need to make this organized. We need responsible forum owners who are willing to come together with others and possibly scrap their own sites, though we recognize the hard work they have put in, and combine all of the users into a forum that would have even greater payoff for the work that they put in.
I need everyperson, regardless of forum choice, to jump on board. I by no means can talk to every forum owner out there, I need you to talk to them. Maybe it's a simple PM with a link to this post, or a copied post to any defunct websites that are getting hits.
If you are tired of seeing your chosen tree fort empty day after day-- maybe it's time that we all got together and built one that everyone can enjoy.
It was two days later, and I had finally gotten free from work. Walking past those same yards that seemed so homey to me, made me long for the olden days-- but those were just that. The past.
I was jerked into reality by the sound of kids screaming, yelling, and squealing in utter delight as they climbed about in their new fort. It was a grand thing, with ropes, ladders, climbing nets, games, and a broad field to play in. Together they had come and built what not one of them could have done alone. In love they had worked through their differences on designs and had created what each one of them longed for-- a place to play, run, and hide.
I, an old man by their standards, slowly increased my pace till I was running towards the new fort. I felt the years fall away, and once again, I was young, playing, laughing, and having fun like I had never before.
Then I woke up with a sweat on my forehead. I groaned in disappointment. Was it only a dream after all? Or could it be true?