Originally written by qDot for mmorgy.com

Note: This article was written by a guest author, John Evans. He can be reached by email at jevans at alum dawt mit dawt edu (Yeah, you have to type it in, I'm not gonna cause a guest writer spam problems).

With all the talk about upcoming 3D sex games, it may be worthwhile to take a look at some of the more low-tech sex play environments that are being used right now. IRC is a text-based medium that has been in use for some years. Windows users can access it with an IRC program like mIRC. There are a multitude of sex channels on servers around the world, but some are more elaborate than just venues for chatting with random strangers.

Legends of Belariath is one such site. Often called The Lonely Inn or TLI after the virtual establishment where most of the activity happens, Legends of Belariath combines a website with an established IRC channel. Registration is required to read most of the webpages, but it's free. The site provides the setting and rules for roleplay on IRC, as well as a forum for non-realtime interactions. The real point, however, is the IRC channel.

Belariath itself is a fantasy setting that borrows heavily from many of the standard sources. Players create characters from a possible 27 races, including elves, dark elves, trolls, goblins and centaurs as well as a few less traditional offerings like cat people, wolven and vulpines. And of course each character has a class--fighter, mage, bard and so forth. All these characters meet and interact with each other in a medieval town. And by interact, I of course mean have sex.

Yes, as was probably evident from the location of this article, Belariath focuses on sexual roleplay. It is heavily focused on D/s and slavery play, at least in theory; reading the rules on the website will give the impression that the vast majority of sexual interaction occurs between master and slave. In practice, however, the channel acts like a fantasy singles bar. Slavery is a vital part of the setting, though not all characters participate in it.

Aside from describing buildings and races, the rules provide a combat system. Players are encouraged to roleplay out combat, which makes for situations where the lowliest newbie can defeat the highest level veteran, if the players agree. The key here is out-of-character (OOC) consent. A player must agree to anything that happens to their character. Rape and forced enslavement happen, but only because the players want it to happen. This allows hardcore rape and D/s roleplay, but it has another interesting effect; people can participate in whatever type of activity they wish, without fear of being forced to go beyond their comfort zones. (Of course, even if you don't want to participate in rape roleplay, you may have to put up with rapes happening a few tables over in the bar...)

In addition to the freeform combat rules, Belariath also provides dice-based combat systems for resolution of fights. Dice-based means stats, and every character has them. Characters rise in level by gaining experience, but the exact methods of gaining experience are kept secret as one means of guarding against abuse. It is known, however, that experience can't be gained without roleplaying in the main channels. This encourages all the activity to happen within the channels and not in private messages. On a busy night there can be half a dozen sexual encounters taking place within the Inn, so it can be a busy place.

There are a lot of people who enjoy Belariath and take it fairly seriously, roleplaying there on a regular basis. The IRC posts are often very long and descriptive. Of course, IRC posts have a maximum of about five lines, but enterprising roleplayers have worked up cut scripts that automatically chop extra-long utterances into several posts. They see a lot of use in Belariath, and several examples can be found in the Public Service sub-forum.

In summary, if you're interested in seeing troll women rape cat men, Belariath is the place for you. You can't speak in the channels or read the website without registering a character, but you can stop in and watch. Just set your IRC program to irc.sorcery.net and look for a channel named #The_Lonely_Inn. Perhaps you'll even wind up with a slave yourself...