Society for Interactive Literature West

What Players Say

"I don't believe I've ever had as much fun in a game before. Thank you!"
-- Gayle Karen Young

"I love the interaction and plotting."
-- Rose Guilbert

"It was a blast! I love to get 'lost' in a role, really play in it, and this game helped do it. The GMs and my fellow players were wonderful."
-- Barbara Baj

"I *live* for live roleplaying games put on by the SIL-West. My character was well written, an absolute joy to play."
-- Michael C. Massa

"It was my first game... I'm hooked!"
-- Kristofer L. Wade

"Very organized; the presentation and content were impressive. Exciting and exhilirating."
-- Harold S. Mackiernan

Who is the SIL-West?

    We're Steve Balzac and Aimee Yermish, one of the most experienced teams in Interactive Literature. We've written over thirty different games since 1981, many of which have run several times. Genres range from fantasy to science fiction, historical to modern-day spy thriller, horror, folktales, mysteries, and many others.

    Thousands of people around the country have enjoyed playing in our games, and we think you'll love it too. We're always happy to talk with you and answer your questions. Call or write:

    30 Carriage Lane
    Stow, MA 01775
    (978) 461-4814

How does it work?

    In Interactive Literature, your character is described to you in a deep complex short story in which you are the main character; your unique background, knowledge and objectives form the prologue to the exciting adventure you'll create during the game.

    Dozens of characters are drawn together by choice and fate to a place and time where history stands in the balance. Each character has individual skills, desires, and a personal stake in the outcome, so you'll have to be persuasive and clever to convince others to help you and your allies save the world... or rule it... or destroy it. Good guys, bad guys, people of all different shades in between, everyone has a chance to come out on top. It's all up to you.

    The Gamesmasters, who have written the plots and the characters, help you get going if you're confused, implement your bright ideas, and keep the game running smoothly. The rules for an Interactive Literature game are only about as long as a magazine article, providing a simple framework for dramatic roleplaying. Combat, thieving, magic, and such are all handled with safe, easy-to-use systems, usually comparing numbers on index cards.

    Even if you're not strong or light-fingered in real life, you can easily play a character who is. Most actions are resolved in thirty seconds or less, so you don't waste time bookkeeping. But violence and the like are usually a last resort. Games are set up to reward creatively encouraging other characters to help you. To succeed, you'll work with, work for, and work around people.

    Each game is self-contained -- the plots are all resolved, one way or the other, by the end. After the game is over, you can tell your best stories and find out what everyone was really up to.

      "Most of my best one was one-on-one with other individuals."
      -- Jane Richards

It's not dangerous, is it?

    Certainly not. All you'll really do is walk around and talk with other people. Potentially hazardous or objectionable acts, such as running, pointing or swinging weapons, or even undesired physical contact, are *illegal* and can get people who insist upon doing them ejected from the game. Safe rules simulate dangerous actions.

      "I was surprised to find that everyone played their roles even when it was bad for them, when they were killed or lost something. I had a wonderful time!"
      -- Walter Vincent

Do I need experience?

    Not at all, even if you've never played a roleplaying game before. If you've ever played Make Believe or daydreamed about being someone else, you have the skills you need. Many of our most successful players don't have much experience at all.

    We're always looking for new people and the new ideas they bring, so you won't be the only new player. Experienced players will be glad to help you out, not just because they're nice people, but because their characters need your help; the games are designed to draw you in. And you can always ask a Gamesmaster to give you a hand.

What if I'm shy?

    Here's a secret -- most of the other players are shy, too. Because you can spend the whole game in character, you'll probably find it much easier to talk with other people. Your in-character friends and allies will seek you out. Because games are so heavily weighted towards roleplaying, you'll find that it is a very social event, a great place to make new friends.

      "I really liked having the power to barge up to anyone and demand attemtion immediately. That's something I just don't do in real life."
      -- Davy Pearce

      "I had many occasions to have great moments."
      -- Rick Gilbert

Who wins?

    Everyone who has fun. It's not possible for every character to feel totally successful at the same time -- there just aren't enough marbles to go around. Conflict and the possibility of failure are what make the games so exciting and success so sweet.

    Some of the best roleplaying and the most dramatic scenes come from people who are "losing." They're also often the most exuberant after the game about how much fun they had. More so than in any other form of gaming, how you play your character and how much fun you have are far more important than who does better or worse than you.

Who controls the outcome?

    You do! There are no GM stooges who have to follow orders, and no observer roles who can't affect anything. The game is not stacked in favor of any character or group, so anyone could come out on top. You will truly earn your triumphs.

      "I was amazed at how much care was taken to cast me as a character I truly enjoyed. Everyone else around me seemed to be very happy with their characters as well."
      -- Al Clark

How do I choose a character?

    After you sign up, you'll fill out a casting questionnaire. Some of the questions are serious, some are silly, some are about you, some are about the character you'd most like to play in that game. We use your answers to match you up with a character you'll enjoy.

    If you have specific ideas about your character, feel free to tell us about it. Because all of the characters are already written, keeping you tightly woven into the plot, you probably won't get exactly what you ask for, but we probably have something you'll like for the same reasons.

Do I need to bring anything?

    No. Everything you need to play is provided. You don't have to buy or construct any equipment, or do any work to make your character ready to play. Why should people who have real-world money or time get an in-game advantage?

    Do I have to wear a costume? Only if you'd like. While costuming adds to the atmosphere of the game, it's not necessary. Imagination makes even jeans and a T-shirt seem the height of Arabian fashion, an alien body, gleaming plate mail, or whatever you wish.

Can I team with my friends?

    Sure! Just mention it on your casting questionnaire. It's not always possible, especially with large groups, but we'll try. Sometimes you'll be connected by public identities, sometimes by secrets you share.

What's the schedule like?

    Most of our games run from a Friday evening to a Sunday afternoon, with breaks for sleeping. You can play as much as you want, any time there are other characters to interact with, and go "inactive" any time you need to. We also occasionally run "minigames," free seminars lasting just a few hours.

      "I like the variety of each game being in a different genre and the tensions that build knowing that the story will end on Sunday. Playing a different character in every game lets me play all types of people and really cover the spectrum."
      -- Charles Sumner

What if I have a disability?

    You are welcome to play; we'll do our best to make sure you can play your character (who will not share your disability) as freely as possible. Talk to us about your specific needs -- we've accomodated lots of people and have never turned anyone away.

How do I get involved?

    Interested? Curious? Dying to get in on the action? Call us at (978) 461-4814. Act now -- space is limited, and games often fill up fast!

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    "What I liked best was the political intrigue. You never knew who you could trust. Everything else was outstanding! Excellent job! These are the best Gamesmasters I've ever encountered. In fifteen years of roleplaying, this is the most fun I've ever had!"
    -- David S. Coronado

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