A Guide to Shadowland VI

Written by David Hyatt (With thanks to Spudman and Ellie for their invaluable help on earlier Guides)
Last Modified 5/19/98


Welcome to the Shadowland System! Those of you who are new to the site are probably wondering just what Shadowland is all about. This document will attempt to explain all your questions and to provide an in-depth explanation of all the many features available on the site.

What is Shadowland?

Shadowland is modeled after the Matrix system of the same name that is found in the Shadowrun roleplaying game. It is not surprising therefore that the site's primary focus is on Shadowrun. You'll find, however, that many other games are supported. Among them are the White Wolf games set in the World of Darkness, Ars Magica, In Nomine, Star Wars, Battletech, Earthdawn, and more!

Like the Shadowland system in SR's fictional universe, SL6 is a multi-user interactive system. You assume the role of fictional characters and interact with other players on the site.

So how do you interact with other users? Well, there are several different ways. There are discussion forums which you can post comments to, and there are also chat rooms that allow you to engage in real-time discussions with other users.

Some of these forums and chat rooms are considered to be OOC. OOC stands for out-of-character, and when you see this abbreviation, it means you can just post as yourself. In OOC forums you talk about real life topics, e.g., movies you've seen recently or good books you've read.

The roleplaying forums are IC. IC stands for in-character. In these areas of Shadowland, you assume the role of a fictional character. Any comments you make or messages you send are from this created persona.

It's important to keep this IC vs. OOC distinction clear in your mind. Examine the comments on a page or the messages being sent in a chat room before you start contributing, so that you can make sure that you're behaving appropriately.

Java vs. Non-Java

Shadowland VI is implemented entirely in Java. Many of you are probably shaking your heads about now. "Isn't Java some kind of beverage? What are you talking about, Dave?"

Java (in addition to being a refreshing beverage) is a platform-independent multi-threaded programming language. Your Web browser, be it Netscape, Internet Explorer, or some less common beast, should have support for Java so that you can use SL6 as it was meant to be used, in all its glory.

Because Java requires a relatively powerful computer and because there are some other issues with its use (like firewalls), there is also a non-Java version of Shadowland. This non-Java version is currently under construction and it does not have all the functionality that the Java version does. Use it only if you can't get the Java version of SL to work.

The screenshots and comments throughout this guide will be directed at the Java users, although many of the concepts are the same.

Web Browsers

It is highly recommended that you use Netscape 4 or Internet Explorer 4 with Shadowland. Netscape 4 is the single best browser to use, although IE4 will work reasonably well in a pinch. This is not a statement of opinion as to which browser is better. I'm more familiar with Netscape-specific technologies than I am with Internet Explorer technologies, and it's the primary browser that I use for testing.

Throughout this document, if there is a specific issue that occurs only with a certain browser, I'll flag the comment with cyan text indicating that the comment is specific to a single Web browser.

AOL USERS - If you're using AOL for Windows to access Shadowland and you're using AOL's Web browser, then you should look at the comments related to Internet Explorer 3 and 4. Your browser is essentially just a custom spin of IE. In most cases, if you're using AOL 3, you'll be using IE3, and if you're using AOL 4, you'll have IE4.


The following section addresses specific problems with running the Land. Most of these problems apply to the Java version, although some apply to the non-Java version.

Problem: No login screen shows up on the home page.
Solution: Make sure Java and JavaScript are enabled. You have to have both enabled in order to use the Java version of the Land.
Netscape 4 - Select Preferences... from the Edit menu. Click on the Advanced tab. Make sure that both the Java and JavaScript checkboxes are checked.
Internet Explorer 4 - Select Internet Options... from the View menu. Click on the Advanced tab. Make sure that the Java VM is enabled and that JScript is enabled. I also recommend enabling the Java Console in IE4, although this does require you to restart your machine.

Problem: The login screen appears, but when I type in my username and password, I get the message "ERROR: The server is down."
Solution: Well, the server could be down, but that's unlikely. If you repeatedly get this message, you're probably behind a restrictive firewall. You may have some options, but those depend on how your firewall is configured. In all probability, you'll need to use the non-Java version of the Land.

Problem: Whenever an alert dialog or a query dialog pops up, Shadowland seems to ignore my input. It just continues with the action as if I'd already selected a button from the dialog.
Solution: You are using Netscape 3 or Internet Explorer 3. Both of these browsers handle modal dialogs improperly, and I'm not going to butcher my code simply to make it work on browsers with lousy Java support. The solution if you're running into this problem is to upgrade to NS4 or IE4. ;)

More problems will be added as they arise. In general, when you see funny behavior, you should pull up your Java Console and examine the contents. If you see any sort of gobbledygook involving "exceptions", then you've probably stumbled on to a genuine error. You should mail me at hyatt@netscape.com and send along the contents of your Java Console.

Netscape 4 - You can pull up the Java Console by selecting it from the Communicator menu.
Internet Explorer 4 - Make sure you have the console enabled. You can then select it from the View menu
Netscape 3 - You can pull up the Java Console by selecting it from the Options menu.

Problem: On the non-Java version, I try to do something and the script gives back some garbage involving exceptions. Am I doing something wrong?
Solution: Nope. The non-Java scripts still communicate with the Shadowland server. If that main server goes down, the scripts won't be able to serve up the data, and you'll start getting weird errors. You should also note that SL logs non-Java users out after 45 minutes of idle time, so if you leave SL up for 45 minutes without loading anything, you'll have to go back to the non-Java title page and log in again.

User Accounts

Before you can do anything on Shadowland, you need to create a user account. Click on the New Account link on the home page and then follow the directions.

IMPORTANT: Write down your password somewhere and don't forget it. I will not give out passwords that have been lost, so if you forget your password, you're out of luck.

This user account is the way you identify yourself to Shadowland. Your user name will be the primary name that you use when interacting OOC. Make sure you choose something relatively simple, as you'll have to enter it every time you enter Shadowland.

If you decide that you need to change or delete your account, make sure you do so when you are not logged in to the system. Both of these options are available from the front page.

The Shadowland Browser

To the left, you'll see a screenshot of the SL6 browser. Like most typical Windows apps, it contains a menu bar, a toolbar, and a content area.

When you first log in to SL6, you'll be placed on the Shadowland site. You can always tell what site you're on by examining the text below the toolbar and above the tree view.

All data on Shadowland is organized in a hierarchical fashion. Each site has several top-level objects called groups.

Each group on a site is devoted to a different topic/style of conversation. As an example, let's go over the Shadowland groups.

First there's Reality Check. You'll find that this group exists on every site. It's a place for OOC discussion about real life. Next there's The Sixth World. This group covers locations in the physical world of Shadowrun. Shadow Talk is for Matrix locations in the world of Shadowrun. Meet the Runners is a place to put objects that correspond to specific characters you've created. The Central Datastore is an OOC archive for new rules, spells, stories, etc. Finally there's Private Campaigns. If you want to run a game that's only open to a select few players, then you should place it there. Otherwise a person might just jump in to your game uninvited.

Although the names differ from site to site, the general concepts are the same. In other words you'll see an OOC discussion group like Reality Check, a group for characters' pages, a group for locations in the game world, an OOC group for new rules, and a group for private games.

You'll notice that there's one other group that I neglected to mention. That's because unlike the other groups, only you can see it. This group is called your Personal Space, and anything you put in there is yours and yours alone. You have one on every site, from Shadowland to The Hunting Ground, and it serves several purposes. Your Personal Space contains three special folders: the Address Book, the Mailboxes, and the Favorites folders. We'll cover each of those when the time comes. For now, back to the tree.

Using the Tree

Opening and Closing Items - Before we get into the specifics of the Shadowland objects, let's talk about how to use your mouse and keyboard to navigate the tree view. First of all, you'll notice the little + signs to the left of the folder icons. Whenever you see a + or - sign, this means that the node can be opened or closed. All you have to do is click on the +/- trigger to toggle the open/closed state of the object.

You can also double-click on the icon or the text to open or close a folder. Finally, there's a quick shortcut for closing a parent folder. All of the children of a folder are connected by gray vertical bars. If you click on the bar, the parent folder will close. You can use this trick to quickly backtrack when (for example) you've opened up an immense folder like Meet the Runners.

Selecting Items - To view an object, left click on the item's text or icon with your mouse. The fields below the tree control will update, and you'll be able to see the name of the person who owns the object, the type of object that you're looking at, and what your access level is for the object (more on that later). You'll also see a short description of the object in the description pane at the bottom of the SL6 browser.

In general, when you select options from the menus or when you click buttons on the toolbar, they'll operate on the selected items in the tree. For example, if you click on the Reality Check folder and then click the Delete toolbar button, Shadowland will assume that you want to delete Reality Check.

Multiple Selection - You can select several items at once in the tree. The CTRL key when used in conjunction with a left-click will toggle the selected state of an item. You can use the SHIFT key to select a whole range of items. To do this, first select an item with a left-click. Then move to the last item in the range of items that you want to select and SHIFT+left-click on it. All of the items in between the two that you clicked on will be selected.

Context Menus - All of the items in the tree have context menus. If you are using a two or three button mouse, then you'll be able to access these menus by pressing your right mouse button over an item. The commands that are available through these menus are just shortcuts for those accessible from the toolbar and top-level menus. As a general rule, you'll only see a command in the context menu if you're capable of executing that command. If you can't perform an action, it won't be found in the context menu.

Keyboard Navigation - Once you've selected an item in the tree with the mouse, you can move around using the keyboard. The UP and DOWN arrows will move you up and down through the tree. The ENTER key can be used to open or close the selected node. The DELETE key can be used to delete the selected item. Finally, you can type the name of the object that you want to jump to, and the tree will be scrolled to that item. It will also be selected. For example, if you type the letters R-E-A quickly, you'll wind up jumping to Reality Check (in all probability).

Drag & Drop - The SL6 tree supports drag and drop, but only within the same tree. In other words, you can't drag between browser windows. The drag operates on the selected item. As you drag, folders will spring open so that you drop inside them. If you drop on top of a folder, the object will be placed inside the folder. If you drop before or after an object, then SL6 will try to place the object where you dictate. You'll see blue or red lines as you drag in between nodes. Red lines indicate that you can't drop the object at that location. Blue lines indicate that you can.

Tree Options - From the Options menu in the browser, you can customize the behavior of your tree control. You can make it so that folders open automatically when you hover over them, so that objects are automatically selected when you hover over them, remove the vertical gray bars and the triggers from your view, or enable/disable auto-scrolling. When auto-scrolling is enabled, the tree will scroll automatically when you mouse over objects near the top and bottom of the tree.

Using the Columns

Directly above the tree view, you'll see a column labeled Name. Underneath this column in the tree itself, you'll see the names of the objects. You can bring other columns into view by clicking on the little left arrow at the edge of the column bar. You can hide columns by clicking on the right arrow at the edge of the column bar. Each of these columns will show you different data for each object. The columns are described below:

Column Name Description
Name The name of the object.
Read Whether or not there is unread info within the object.
New Whether or not you've ever seen the object.
Owner Who owns the object.
Type The type of the object (e.g., folder or page)

Sorting - You can left-click on a column to sort the objects on that column. For example, if you click on the Name column, the objects will be alphabetically sorted by name in ascending order. You can toggle between different styles of sort through continued clicking on a column. All of the columns have three states: unselected, ascending sort, and descending sort.

Resizing Columns - You can click and drag on the column header edges to resize columns. SL6 is smart enough to remember your column settings, so pick which columns you want exposed and make them whatever size you'd like!

Moving Columns - You can click and drag the column headers themselves to move them around on the bar. For example, you might want to move the Owner column so that it's directly to the right of the Name column. You can do this by clicking on the Owner column and dragging it to the left until it is in the desired position.


Now that we've covered the basics of navigation, you're probably itching to make some things of your own. Well, before you can do much of anything, you need to create some fictional characters. You start out with just your user name on each site, but you'll no doubt want to create many different colorful characters on each of the sites.

To make a name on a specific site, just select New Name... from the Names menu, or select the button from the toolbar. Type in the name you want to use and click OK (or hit Enter). It's as simple as that! Note that this new name is only visible on the current site, so you can keep all your characters separate. For example, you might make a FastJack on Shadowland and a Dracula on The Hunting Ground, but these names would only be visible on the site you made them for.

If you decide to change a name at any point, you can do so by selecting Edit Name... from the Names menu. Just pick the name to change and type in the new name. After you click OK (or hit Enter) that character will have his/her name changed. The character will still retain ownership of all his/her objects.

If you decide to delete a name, you can select Delete Name... from the Names menu. Note that when you delete a name, any objects that the character owns will be destroyed. If you want to save any of these objects, you should change their ownership to another of your characters before performing the deletion.

Once you've made a few names, you're ready to start participating on Shadowland! Let's go over a few of the basic SL concepts so you can get a feel for how things work around here.


At the topmost level of the SL hierarchy are the sites. At any point in time, an SL6 browser window will be displaying the tree for a specific site. While you're looking at that site, you can only see its objects and only use names that you've created specifically for that site. This cuts down on confusion, e.g., you can easily separate your In Nomine activities from your Shadowrun activities.

To switch sites, you can select the site you want to switch to from the View menu, or you can click on the button on the toolbar.


Within each site are the different groups. These have been covered briefly already. These groups are essentially just folders that contain forums devoted to different topics of conversation. When you make new objects, you should consider carefully which groups they belong in. Don't place an OOC rules page in an IC forum, and don't place IC pages in Reality Check. Use common sense and good judgment, and you should be fine.

Seen vs. Unseen

All objects in the tree are either seen or unseen. If you've never visited an item before, it will be marked as unseen. You'll see a little icon in the tree that indicates that you haven't ever clicked on the object before. You can also tell when an object is unseen by looking at the values of the New column in the tree. Once you've clicked on the item once, the object will be marked as seen, and the little icon will disappear.


Folders are the general all-purpose container objects used on Shadowland. Inside a folder you can put any other objects (including other folders). Folders can be either open or closed, and their icons will update in the tree to reflect their open/closed state.

Read vs. Unread - In addition to being seen/unseen or open/closed, folders can be read/unread. If a folder is read, then that means it contains absolutely nothing new inside it. You've seen everything there is to see in that folder. You can tell whether or not a folder is read by looking at its color or by examining the Read column value in the tree. Read folders are grey in color.

If a folder contains something new, something that you haven't seen before, or if an object inside the folder has changed since you last visited it, then the folder will be marked as unread. Unread folders are sky-blue in color.

Making a New Folder - To make a new folder, you should first select the folder that will be the parent of your new object. Click on the parent object in the tree and select it. Once you have the parent selected, you should pick New... from the File menu, or click on the button on the toolbar.

You'll see an intimidating-looking dialog, but don't be scared! Once you've mastered this dialog, creating new objects of all types will be a snap! The new dialog looks like this:

This is the generic dialog that's used to create all objects on Shadowland that can appear in the tree. There are four fields that are filled in for most objects on Shadowland.

The first item in the dialog is the object's owner. It indicates which of your characters this new object belongs to. For example, if you're making a new folder for FastJack called FastJack's Matrix Joint, then you probably want to give ownership to FastJack.

Once you've decided who the folder belongs to, you need to pick a name for the new object. Continuing with the above example, you'd type FastJack's Matrix Joint into the box.

Next you need to tell Shadowland what kind of object you're making. In this case, you want to select Folder from the dropdown list.

Finally you should type in a brief description for your object. This description uses a subset of HTML. If you don't know what HTML is, you should check out the HTML section found later in this document. For completeness' sake, here's a list of the tags that the description pane supports: <body> (for colors and background images only), <img>, <p>, <br>, <b>, <font> (for colors only), <i>, and <a>. Basically this description pane supports everything that the chat window supports (see the Chat Window section for more details).

After you've typed in the description, click on OK. You'll then be presented with a little dialog asking whether or not items in your folder should be sorted alphabetically, so let's cover that. If you leave the box checked, then any new items that anyone puts into your folder (including you) will automatically be sorted alphabetically by name. Sometimes, however, you might want a finer-grained control. For example, you might want to have an Intro page followed by Chapter pages in a private game, and you don't want the Intro page appearing last simply because I comes after C. To solve this problem, you can decheck the box and control the order of the objects yourself.

If the folder is sorted naturally, then new objects will always be tacked on to the end of the folder. It will then be up to you, the owner of the folder, to move the objects to their correct location using drag and drop.

IMPORTANT: If you don't plan on regularly monitoring your folder, leave alphabetic sort enabled. Don't force others to clean up after your mess.

Changing Folder Information - Don't worry if you screw up a name or don't select the right owner for your folder. You can always change the information later by selecting Edit Info... from the Edit menu or by selecting the button from the toolbar. Whenever you want to change the generic information for any object (such as the name, owner, or description), you use the Edit Info... command.

Changing the Folder Sort Style - To change the folder's sort style at a later date, you can select Edit Data... from the Edit menu or select the button from the toolbar. In general, whenever you want to change information that is specific to the data type of the object (e.g., folder, page, chat room, etc.), you should use the Edit Data... command.

Always Open When Fetched - When you first log on to Shadowland, you'll be placed at the last site you visited. All the top-level folders will be closed. This can get annoying, since you don't want to have to navigate your way through a convoluted hierarchy to get to an object that you want to examine often. One solution (there are others that will be covered later) is to select a folder and mark it as always being opened when first fetched from Shadowland. This means that whenever the folder first appears in your tree, it will automatically be opened so that you can get to its children immediately. To toggle this option on a given folder, select the object and then choose Always Open When Fetched from the Edit menu.

Marking Folders as Read - Some folders contain absolutely enormous amounts of information, and at times you'll simply want to mark everything in the folder as seen and read. To do so, just select the folder and then choose Mark as Read from the Edit menu or click on the button on the toolbar. After a few moments, all the objects inside the folder as well as the folder itself will be marked as both seen and read.

Deleting Folders - If you decide to destroy a folder, you will destroy any objects contained inside the folder, even if they aren't owned by you. You may want to give people the opportunity to move their objects out of your folder before you go off and nuke the folder.

To delete the folder you can select it and hit the DELETE key, or you can choose Delete from the Edit menu. The command is also found on the toolbar. All objects in the tree can be deleted in a similar fashion if you have the appropriate permission to do so.

Pages [The Basic Stuff]

Pages on Shadowland are the repositories of information. Most of the gaming that occurs on Shadowland happens either on pages or in chat rooms. A page on Shadowland just as on the Web appears in your Web browser's display area, and it's written using the same language (HTML) that's used for constructing typical Web pages.

Unlike typical Web pages, Shadowland pages can contain comments, messages posted by users that are tacked onto the page itself. Think of a page therefore as corresponding to a single topic of conversation or to a single physical/virtual location.

Examples of pages might include a Guns page in Reality Check for the discussion of real-life firearms. Or perhaps you've made a new bar in Downtown Seattle, and you decide to place a page in the Downtown Seattle folder, so that runners looking to play in the Seattle area can find it. Pages can vary widely in scope, and their ultimate purpose is entirely up to you, the creator of the page.

Read vs. Unread - Like folders, pages can be either read or unread ( or ). The same colors (grey and blue) are used to indicate read/unread state. If a page is unread, then that means that there are additional comments that have been posted to the page since you were last there. If a page is read, then the overall look and feel of the page may still have been edited by the owner, but no new comments have been posted.

Making a New Page - Follow the same steps used for making a new folder, but select Page as your object type from the dropdown list. After you've entered the basic object information, a blank page will be created. You'll then be prompted to define the initial contents of your page, what people will see when they drop in for a visit.

The dialog to the right shows you what you'll see when you make a page. The large text area is where you actually define the page content. It will be filled initially with some HTML content. The HTML code in the box will set up your page with a title and a default background image and style that is appropriate for the site. You can leave the code alone and just start typing, or you can replace it with your own HTML.

You can click on the Preview button to see how your finished page will look. Feel free to use the button as many times as you need to, and don't be afraid to mess up at first. You can always change the information later.

Once you're satisfied with the way the page looks, click Ok and send it off. Shadowland will display the real page after it has received it so you can see how it looks. Just as with folders, you can change the generic information later with the command and change the page text/data later with the command. You can also delete pages with the command.


So now that you've made a page, other users will probably drop by to say "HI!". They'll do this by posting comments to your page. Comments are messages that are tacked on to the end of the page. For those Shadowrun players out there, think of the comments that fictional runners make in the various published Shadowrun sourcebooks. The main text of the sourcebooks is the page data, and the comments from runners are the black information, the discussion that the fictional characters have about the data. This is of course only one way to view comments. Regardless of your posting philosophy, comments are where the actual gaming happens, where characters converse, interact, and determine the course of a story.

Posting a Comment - To post a comment to someone's page, you should first select the page. Then select New... from the menu or hit the button on the toolbar. By now you'll be getting pretty familiar with the New Object dialog that pops up. This time you'll want to select Comment as your object type from the dropdown list. The owner that you choose here is the character that is actually posting the comment. In other words, this character performs the action or speaks the words that you're going to put into your comment.

Notice that once you select Comment from the list, the name and description fields become disabled. This is perfectly normal. Just click OK to continue with your post. (Comments don't really have names or descriptions. They aren't quite first class objects.)

The dialog to the left will appear. This is the single dialog that you will probably use the most in Shadowland, so we'll go over all the options to make sure you understand them completely. The first area is a text field, and it's where the main text of your comment goes. This comment will be tacked on to the HTML page, so it is also written in HTML.

One of the fundamental rules of comment posting is to remember to check your tags. Don't leave a <b> or an <i> tag open when you post a comment, or all the subsequent comments will be messed up. Use the Preview button to ensure that your comment looks the way you want it to before posting it to the page.

There are no hard and fast rules to posting comments. The style that you'll use in posting will vary depending on the page that you're posting to and the rules that might be enforced by a GM. There are some basic conventions that are prevalent throughout Shadowland, so I'll mention them here briefly.

Actions are traditionally italicized (using the <i> tag), and spoken text is printed normally. Nobody is going to flame you if you don't follow these rules, and some GMs (myself included) even dislike this style. Nevertheless it's quite common on Shadowland, so if you're on a page where this posting style is being used, it's a good idea to blend in, if only for aesthetic reasons.

Once you've entered the text of the comment, you can click OK to post it. It will show up at the end of the page, and you should see it. If you don't see the new comment, then you need to fix your cache settings in your browser so that pages are always loaded fresh every time they're visited.

Netscape 4 - Select Preferences... from the Edit menu. Click on the Advanced tab and then click on Cache. Make sure that documents are being verified every time.
Internet Explorer 4 - Select Internet Options... from the View menu. Click on the Settings... button under Temporary Internet Files. Make sure that Every Visit to the Page is checked.

OOC Comments - Sometimes when you're posting on an IC page, you'll want to attach an OOC comment to let the GM know what you're doing. One way to do this is by prefacing any OOC comments with the letters OOC.

>>>>>[ Come on, Jack. You know my group's good for the cash. Scrape 10,000 nuyen off the price and you've got yourself a shadowrunning team. (OOC: Can I use Negotiation to wear this asshole down, boss?) ]<<<<<
- Screamer Bragg

This is clunky, however, and you should use it sparingly. There's a better way to do this. With Shadowland VI, you can insert OOC comments into an IC comment so that they appear as superscripted footnotes that will only appear when their superscripts are clicked. This way the flow of the story isn't disrupted by jarring OOC remarks, and casual readers don't have to wade through a blow-by-blow description of the game mechanics behind the action.

You can make a new footnote by clicking on the OOC button in the comment dialog. Type the text of your OOC comment into the resulting dialog, and then click OK. The OOC footnote will be inserted into your main comment text and delimited with <ooc> tags, so you can edit the text from within the main comment window should you choose to.

In fact, you can bypass the OOC dialog all together and just use the <ooc> and </ooc> tags to denote an OOC comment. Just make sure that the tags occur BY THEMSELVES on separate lines. If you don't understand this, stick with the OOC button.

Netscape 3 / Internet Explorer 3 - These browsers don't support the dynamic HTML required for OOC comments. If you see screwed up comments that seem to contain OOC information embedded in the text of the comments, then you're probably using one of these browsers. You should upgrade to Netscape 4 or to IE4 so that you can make use of the OOC footnote technology.

Dice Rolls - A dice roll is a special OOC comment that is made when your character needs to roll dice. Most of the sites support dice rolling, although some do not. If you click on the Dice button in the comment dialog, the dice roll dialog for that site will appear. If nothing happens when you click on the button, then that site doesn't support dice rolling.

Remember, once you roll those dice, you won't be able to turn back. Comments with dice rolls in them cannot be edited or deleted (to avoid rerolling of the dice until a good roll is achieved), so make absolutely sure the comment is perfect before you post it.

Headers and Trailers - You'll notice that traditional Shadowland comments are surrounded with >>>>[ and ]<<<<<. All comments in SL6 can have a header or trailer appended to them. If you don't change any settings when you post a comment, then under normal circumstances the default header and trailer appropriate to the site will be used.

You can optionally discard the header/trailer when posting by selecting None in the comment dialog header/trailer dropdown list. If you do this, comments will be placed right next to each other, without even line breaks between them. This gives the posters complete freedom to create a "story" format. Even posters' names will be omitted, so that the text can read like a fictional novel, with no jarring interruptions.

If you don't like the headers and trailers used for a site, you can create your own. From the Names menu, select Edit Header/Trailer.... You can then create your own look and feel for your different characters.

Once you've defined your own header and trailer, you can then select Custom from the comment dialog dropdown box to indicate that your own defined header/trailer style for that character should be used.

Pages [ The Advanced Stuff ]

Now that you are familiar with the basics of comment posting and page creation, let's talk about some of the more advanced capabilities of Shadowland pages. You can see some of the advanced options for pages by selecting Edit Data... and clicking on the Advanced... button. You'll see the Advanced Page dialog.

Page Headers/Trailers

From within this Advanced Page dialog you can customize a page's header/trailer settings. You can prevent users from posting with custom headers/trailers, or you can define your own header/trailer that will be used wherever the site default would otherwise be used.

In order to make these headers/trailers flexible, the following special tags can be used. <name> can be used to indicate that a character's name should be placed into the header/trailer. <number> can be used to print out the number of the comment. <date> can be used to cause the site's timestamp to be printed.


Some pages see a lot of traffic and have 10-20 comments posted to them in a single day. If these pages were allowed to grow without bound, they'd eventually reach a prohibitively large size. Nobody wants to wait 10 minutes for 2000 comments to download!

Archives are the solution to this problem. After a certain number of comments are posted to pages, they'll eventually be moved into an archive. So if you ever come onto a page and it looks like people start off right in the middle of a conversation, that's why. By default, a page archives itself after 30 comments have been posted to it. 3 comments will be left on the page so that users don't lose track of the conversation.

To guarantee that you always start from the beginning of a discussion, you can view the page's archive by selecting the button from the toolbar. You can also open up the page in the tree. The archive node will be the first child. Selecting it will cause the archive to be loaded.

You can use the Edit Data () command either on the page or the archive node to tweak the archive settings. You can select Archive Now to force the page to archive itself immediately. Selecting Flush Archive will cause the archived comments to be destroyed. You can also tweak the auto-archive settings by specifying the archive threshold and the number of comments that should remain on the page following the archive.


When I said that comments were always tacked on to the end of a page, I lied. That was actually a simplification. The truth is that comments can be inserted anywhere within your page text, as long as you define where the insertion points should go. These insertion points, places where comments are allowed to be posted, are called markers.

All pages have an End of Page marker. By default, that's where all comments will go. You can't delete this marker, so don't try. It's always present, and there's nothing you can do about it. ;)

Creating Markers - You can, however, create markers of your own. There are two ways to do this. The first is to use the by now painfully familiar New Object () dialog. Select Marker as the type for your object. You'll next see a list view of the page text. Pick a line at which to insert the marker. Once you've selected the appropriate location, click OK. The marker will be created.

This method is easy for creating markers one at a time, but sometimes you may want to quickly define 50-100 markers within a massive source document, so that runners can comment throughout your text. To do this, you can directly edit the page text and place <marker> tags at the appropriate points. MAKE SURE THE MARKER TAGS ARE PLACED ON LINES BY THEMSELVES!

You can specify a name for the marker by typing <marker name="Foo">. If you omit a name, one will be generated randomly for you by Shadowland, although it's recommended that you create names for your markers in order to improve readability.

Posting to Specific Markers - In the comment dialog box, you'll notice that there's a dropdown box of all the markers on the page. If there are other markers defined, then you can select one other than the End of Page marker at which to place your comment.

Markers and the Tree - You can open up a page in the tree to view all of its markers. They'll appear in the tree with the icon. Furthermore, you can open up the markers to view all the comments underneath a particular marker. There are a couple of operations you can perform on the markers themselves by selecting the Edit Data... () command from the menu. You can archive all the comments at a given marker, or you can flush all the comments at a given marker. In the former case, the comments will be appended to the archive. In the latter case, the comments will simply be erased.

Comments Revisited

Comments and the Tree - Comments can be manipulated directly in the tree. Open up the page and then open up the appropriate marker (usually the End of Page marker). You'll see the comments grouped underneath the marker. The comments appear in the tree with the icon. If you select a specific comment, the page will jump to that comment (assuming the page is currently loaded in your browser). You can delete comments that you posted with the command, but only if they don't contain a dice roll.

Comment Editing - You can edit comments that you posted, but only if the page has comment editing enabled. Comment editing can be enabled from the Advanced Page dialog. Note that if the comment contains a dice roll, you won't be allowed to edit it.

You'll see the original comment text in a separate dialog. Make the appropriate changes and then select OK. Be careful about messing with the complicated JavaScript code associated with OOC comments. Don't delete something you shouldn't or you may end up screwing up the page for everyone else.

Cross Posting - Sometimes you might want to post the same comment to multiple pages. You can do this by selecting multiple pages in the tree and then posting your comment as you normally do. Those pages will subsequently be cross-linked, and you'll be prompted to repeat the cross post even if you only select a single page from the group the next time you post.

If you edit or delete comments that were originally cross-posted, you will be asked if you wish to delete or edit all occurrences of the comments. Note that if the comments look different on different pages (if for example different page headers/trailers made the comments dissimilar), then they won't be considered the same comment any more.


You can create links to your own Web sites and place them in the Shadowland tree. Links are represented in the tree with the icon. To create a new link, simply select the New... command from the File menu (or from the toolbar).

In the New Object dialog box select Link as your object type in the dropdown list. Once you've entered the object's generic info, you will be prompted for the URL of the link. Just type in the link and hit ENTER or click OK.

IMPORTANT: Make sure that you've entered a valid URL. If the page you specified does not load properly, then you might not have entered the link URL correctly. If you do get the URL wrong you can change it by selecting the Edit Data... () command.

Just as with pages and folders, you can change the object using the and commands, and you can delete the link from the tree by hitting the DELETE key or selecting the command.

VRML Worlds

Shadowland has basic support for VRML files. They use the icon in the tree.

Just as with other objects, select the New... command from the File menu (or from the toolbar). In the dropdown list select VRML World for the object type.

You will be prompted for the URL of a VRML file. This URL needs to point to an uncompressed VRML world. In other words, make sure that the file is not gzipped. Also make sure that any links contained in the file are absolute. Shadowland will only upload the primary file, so if your VRML world is referencing multiple files, you'll need to make all the links in the primary file absolute or upload each file one by one and adjust your links accordingly.

Just as with pages and folders, you can change the object using the and commands, and you can delete the world from the tree by hitting the DELETE key or selecting the command.

Aliases and the Favorites Folder

Sometimes you might want an object to appear in more than one place in the tree. For example there might be a Bars and Clubs folder in The Sixth World, and there might also be a Downtown Seattle folder in the sixth world. You've made a new folder for the Octane Club, and you're at a loss as to where the folder should go.

This is where aliases come in. Aliases are a way of making a single object appear in several places at once. You can place your object in a certain primary location. This is where the actual object will reside. You can then create an alias to the object in the other folder.

An alias is like a link or shortcut to the actual object. For Windows users, aliases are just like Shortcuts. For Mac users, aliases are Aliases, and for Unix users, aliases are symbolic links. Shadowland places an overlay icon on top of the icon in the tree to let you know that the object is an alias.

Creating Aliases - To create an alias, first select the parent folder. This is the place where the alias is going to go. After you've selected the parent object, choose the New... command from the File menu or from the toolbar ( ).

In the New Object dialog box, just select the owner of the alias and select Alias as your object type. The name and description fields will become disabled. Don't panic. You simply don't need to supply a description for an alias, since it will use the name and description of the object that it points to.

So continuing with our example from above, you would create your Octane Club folder in Bars and Clubs. Then you would select the Downtown Seattle folder and pop up the New Object dialog. You'd pick an owner for the alias and select alias from the dropdown list.

Next you'll see the dialog on the right. All you have to do is find the object that you want to create a shortcut to and select it. Once you've picked the object, you can hit OK and your alias will be created. So you would open up to the Bars and Clubs folder and find your Octane Club folder. Select it, hit OK, and an alias to the Octane Club will be created in the Downtown Seattle folder. Now users can get to your folder from two different paths.

Favorites - One of the special folders in your Personal Space (Remember your Personal Space? That's the special group that only you can see. It belongs entirely to you.) is the Favorites folder. This folder can contain aliases to objects in the real tree. Think of the Favorites folder as Shadowland's equivalent of bookmarks. SL is a very big place, and frequently you won't want to pore over the thousands of pages on the site. You can just bookmark your favorite items and then quickly look at only those items.

As you can see from above, the creation of an alias is rather complicated and confusing. If you had to repeat those steps just to add an alias to your Favorites, you'd probably go insane. Luckily Shadowland provides a shortcut for creating an alias in your Favorites. You can select the object that you want to bookmark, and then select Add to Favorites... from the File menu. This command can also be found on the toolbar ().

All you have to do is select the item or items (yes, you can bookmark several items at once) and then click on the button. Aliases to the selected objects will be added to your Favorites folder. Shadowland will even open up your Favorites folder if it is currently closed so that you can see the new aliases.

Viewing Favorites - Shadowland provides a convenient mechanism for viewing only your Favorites. From the View menu, you can choose to view only your Favorites. You can also click on the personal space button on the toolbar ( or , depending on whether or not anything in your Personal Space is unread) and switch views that way.

Shadowland is even smart enough to remember your default view, so you can start up in the Favorites only view every time if you'd like!

Name Addresses/Lists and the Address Book

Name Addresses - Shadowland provides Name Addresses so that you can keep track of characters on the Land. There's even a special folder in your Personal Space called the Address Book that can hold the names of people that you'd like to remember.

Name Addresses serve several purposes. Their primary use is with mail on Shadowland. You can select the names of people that you'd like to send a mail message to, and then send one off to them. Basically these Addresses are a convenience for any action that you'd like to perform that involves other characters on Shadowland.

Name Addresses are represented in the tree with the icon. The object's name is always the name of some character that can be found on the site. For example, if you wanted to keep track of FastJack, you'd create a new Name Address with the name of FastJack.

Online/Offline Status - Name Addresses also change color to indicate whether or not the users that own the names are online. The Addresses in the tree will be blue and boldfaced if the users that own them are currently on Shadowland. Otherwise they'll look like any other items in the tree. If you see that someone is online, then you can send them a private chat invitation. Select the name address of an online user and then choose Send Chat Invitation... from the File menu. If the other user accepts, then you'll be placed into a private chat with that user!

Creating a New Name Address - To create a new Name Address, select the New... command from the File menu (or from the toolbar). In the dropdown list select Name Address for the object type. For the name of the object, select the name that you want to monitor. IMPORTANT: Make sure you get the name right. If you don't, then the name is essentially useless.

Editing/Deletion of Name Addresses- Name addresses don't have any actual data per se, so they don't respond to the command. You can, however, change their info () or delete () them.

The Address Book - Another of the special folders in your Personal Space is the Address Book. You can create a list of your favorite Name Addresses. Just as with Favorites, Shadowland provides a convenient shorthand for adding people to your Address Book.

Select an item or items in the tree. Then select Add to Address Book from the File menu, or click on the button on the toolbar. For most objects, the OWNER of the object will be added to your address book. So for example, if you select FastJack's Matrix Joint and click on the button, a Name Address will be added to your Address Book for FastJack. If you select a Name Address from the tree and click on the button, the name of the object will be used rather than the owner. This allows you to easily clone other Name Addresses that people have made.

Name Lists - Sometimes you'll want a convenient way to limit access to a private game to only a select group of your closest friends. Or perhaps you want a quick and easy way to send an e-mail to a whole group of people.

Name Lists provide the mechanism for referring to multiple names at once. They are represented in the tree with the icon. Name Lists are really just special folders that can contain only Name Addresses.

Creating New Name Lists - To create a new Name List, select the New... command from the File menu (or from the toolbar). In the dropdown list select Name List for the object type. The name of the list should have something to do with the people that you're going to place inside it. For example, I have a Superusers list in my Address Book that contains spudman, Ellery, chud, Talks-With-Cats, and Demonseed Elite... all the superusers that exist on Shadowland. That way I can conveniently send messages to my fellow superusers and/or limit access on certain objects to only superusers.

Once you've finished with the generic object information, you'll see the incredibly intimidating dialog to the right. This dialog is just a convenient way for adding/removing multiple name addresses quickly. You can always cancel out out of it and just create the Name Addresses in the Name List folder one by one, but this dialog gives you a quicker mechanism for creating multiple names.

You'll see a tree view in the main dialog. It will initially be empty, since you don't yet have any names in your Name List. To add names to the list, click on the Add button. To remove names from the list, you can select them in the tree and hit the DELETE key or click on the Remove button.

When you click on the Add button, you'll see this dialog, and it's even scarier than the last one. Stay calm, though! This dialog is actually easy to use, and once you've mastered it, you'll be able to use it for access control, name lists, and mail messages without even thinking about it.

The new dialog starts you off in your Address Book (the assumption being that you'd like to add names that might already be found in your address book to the list). If you select Name Addresses in the tree and then click OK, then the names of those objects will be added to your Name List.

You can click on the Toggle View button to switch between a site-wide view and an address-book-only view. If you go to the site-wide view, then you can select objects that are owned by people whom you want to add to the list. For example, you might run off and select Barry's Square and then click OK to have Barry added to your Name List.

If the tree view is too confusing, you can make use of the text field at the bottom of the dialog. In this field you can simply type the names that you want to add, separated by commas. Make sure that you get the names exactly right, though! One advantage of using the tree is that Shadowland will give you the right name every time. If you aren't sure how a person's name is spelled, you should try to find a comment from that person or an object that is owned by that person and use it to get the name into your list.

Once you have all the names in the list that you'd like, you can click OK. At that point the actual Name Addresses will be created. If you want to change the contents of the list, you can edit it directly in the tree, or (for faster editing) you can pop up this fancy pair of dialogs again by choosing the command with the Name List selected.

Just as with regular folders, you can set the sort style to be non-alphabetic. Also as with folders, you can set lists to always open when fetched. Name Lists also respond to the and commands.

Chat Rooms and the Chat Window

Chat rooms are the place to go for real-time gaming. You can converse with other users and see what they say immediately. The icon is used to represent chat rooms in the tree. In addition, you'll see this same icon on the toolbar. If you click on the toolbar icon or select General Chat from the View menu, then you'll end up in a special cross-site chat room that exists outside the tree.

This special cross-site chat room is called General Chat, and it is an OOC area where users can hang out and converse on real-life topics. No gaming occurs in this chat room, and you'll only annoy the others present by doing so. Don't roll dice in the General Chat area, or you'll get yelled at by everyone else there. If you want to game in a chat room, then you should create one in the appropriate place in the tree.

Creating New Chat Rooms - To create a new Chat Room, select the New... command from the File menu (or from the toolbar). In the dropdown list select Chat Room for the object type. Once you've filled out the generic information for the object, you'll see this dialog. You can customize the look of your chat room by picking colors and by choosing a home URL that should be displayed whenever a user enters the chat room.

Colors are specified as in HTML, with a # followed by a six-digit hexadecimal RGB value. Shadowland does understand a few named colors, and you can use those instead of the # value. These named colors are white, red, green. blue, yellow, gray, and black.

Editing/Deleting Chat Rooms - Just as with pages and folders, you can change the object using the and commands, and you can delete the chat room from the tree by hitting the DELETE key or selecting the command.

The Chat Window - To the right, you'll see a shot of the chat window. Whenever you click on a icon, you'll enter the chat room, and this window will pop up.

The large black area in the middle of the window is the place where the messages appear. If you type a message to other users, then what you say will show up in this area for everyone to read.

The list on the right contains the names of all the users that are currently in the room. There's also a special name, All, that we'll cover ina bit.

The dropdown list box points to your Active Name. If you do type in a message and send it, this is the character that is currently doing the speaking.

The single-line text field at the bottom of the window is where you type in your messages. A message is sent the moment you hit the Enter key. When you send a typical message, the comment will be printed as if your character just spoke that comment. If you look at the sample in the chat window, you can see that Kreillh, Shadowknight, LJ and Dave each sent a single message.

Directing Comments - Notice LJ's comment to Shadowknight? Rather than just addressing everyone in the room, LJ directed his comment to Shadowknight. This is very easy to do. Just select the name of the person you wish to speak to in the tree, and your message will be directed at that person. Now you can see why the special All name exists in the list view. Selecting this special name is a way you can stop directing your comments to a specific person and start sending messages to everyone in the room once more.

Modes - There are four distinct modes of communication that you can use when you send messages, and each is displayed differently. In a given message your character is either SAYING something or DOING something. Furthermore, your character may be SAYING or DOING something that only some of the other users in the room can see. These are referred to as WHISPERS and WHISPERED ACTIONS.

Most of the time you'll just be speaking to everyone in the room. If you do want to say something to a specific person and you only want them to see it, then you should select the person's name in the list view and then check the whisper box. Only that person will see the message. You will continue to whisper until you decheck the box.

If you want to perform an action, then you can change the message mode from Say to Do. When you do this then your name will automatically begin the comment, and your message will appear in italics. You will typically type a verb at the start of your message, e.g., you could type "jumps up and down." to see Dave jumps up and down appear in the message window. To whisper an action, you just need to select the person or persons that will be able to see the comment and then check the whisper box.

There are shorthands for the four types of modes. These are /tell, /w, /me, and /wme. Furthermore, each of these commands can be directed at specific users by giving a comma-separated list in {} immediately after the command. If you omit the curly-brace list, then your comment will be directed to the users that you have selected in the list view. As an example, you could type /whisper{Demonseed Elite, Ellery} Hey guys. How's it going? to send a message to Demonseed Elite and Ellery that only they (and you) can see.

Furthermore, you need only type a substring of the user's name when you direct a comment. Just provide enough of the characters for Shadowland to be able to tell which user you mean. If the name is ambiguously specified, then Shadowland will select the first match it finds as the candidate that you wish to speak to.

HTML and Messages - Chat supports a subset of HTML. The following tags are handled by the chat window. <font> (for colors only), <img> (src, width, height, border only), <a> (href only), <br>, <p>, <i>, <b>, and <body> (color and bgimage only). Chat also supports special commands called <font fadein>, <font fadeout>, and <font fadeinout>. These commands allow you to create special fading text. YOU MUST REMEMBER TO CLOSE FADING TEXT TAGS, because unlike other chat tags, they'll span multiple lines. If you don't close them, everyone on Shadowland will kill you. Enough said. ;)

Images and the Chat Window - By default, only images from Shadowland will be allowed to show up in the chat window. You need to do some browser tweaking to allow the Shadowland Java applet to communicate with other servers.

Netscape 3 / Internet Explorer 3 - Sorry. You're out of luck.
Netscape 4 - Add the following line to your prefs.js file (found in your user profile directory):

user_pref("signed.applets.codebase_principal_support", true)

You need to add this preference to the file after shutting down Communicator. You cannot modify this file while Communicator is running, since it will write out an old copy when it shuts down. Once you have added the preference, SL will ask for universal connectivity privileges when you next visit Shadowland. If you feel comfortable granting this privilege to Shadowland, then you will be able to see images from any site in the chat rooms or in the description panes of the SL browser.

Internet Explorer 4 - You need to configure your Java security so that you applets can connect to hosts other than the one they were downloaded from. From the Security tab in your Internet Options, you need to make Shadowland into a Low security zone.

URLS and Chat - Although it's hard to tell, if a user puts a link into the chat window, you can click on the link to have it displayed in a Web browser window. You can also click on the URL field next to Current URL (above the mode box in the Chat window) if a URL is currently showing there. Chat is able to autodetect most URLs, from newsgroups to http to ftp.

The SL Protocol - When you specify links, you can use a special protocol called SL that only works from within the chat window or description pane. When you use SL links, the Web browser will not only display your content, but the item will be found in the SL tree and selected. This can be very handy if you want to take someone to your item's location rather than finding out the complicated URL for your page and pasting it in. The basic format of the SL protocol is similar to other URLs. Just start off from the site and as you go through nodes in the tree to get to the one you want to specify, separate the names with forward slashes. As an example, to provide a link to Reality Check on Shadowland, I could type:

<a href="sl:Shadowland/Reality Check">Click here!</a> to go to the Reality Check forum on Shadowland.

These links are especially useful in the description pane if you want to cross-link your pages or refer to some of your other pages.

Rolling Dice - You can roll dice from within chat by clicking on the Roll Dice... button. Make sure you don't roll dice in General Chat.

Ignoring Users - Sometimes another user in chat will really annoy you, or sometimes there are several conversations going on that you might not want to listen to. You can always ignore some users by selecting the users in the list view and then by selecting Ignore Selected Users from the Users menu. You will no longer see any comments that those users make in the room. You can always stop ignoring users by selecting Stop Ignoring Users from the Users menu. Ignored usernames show up as red in the list view.

Away from Screen - If you plan on being away from the chat room for a while but you don't actually want to close up the window, then you should select Away from Screen... from the Users menu. Your name will turn purple in the tree list, and that will let everyone else know that until you turn Away from Screen... off, that you're not there and won't be able to answer their questions or hear what they have to say.

Context Menus - There are a number of commands available through right-mousing on the users in the user list. You can ask a user to participate in a private chat, add that user to your address book, ignore/unignore the user, and send the user mail. These options are also available from the top-level menu.

Chat Room Properties - There are certain fields that you can edit using the Edit Data... () command on chat rooms. You can specify the background and foreground color of the message window, and you can specify a default URL that should be loaded upon entry to the chat room.

Deleting Chat Rooms - As with other objects in the tree, you can delete chat rooms with the Delete ( ) command.

Mail Messages and the Mailboxes Folder

It's time to cover the last special folder in your Personal Space. We've mentioned the Address Book and the Favorites folders. You also have a third folder in your Personal Space called Mailboxes. If you open that folder up, you'll see that you have a folder for every name that you have on a site.

Sending mail is a three-step process. First you select New... from the menu or click on the button on the toolbar. Now normally when you make a new object, you select the parent object, i.e., the object under which the new object will be placed. That doesn't apply with mail. Instead you should select the recipients of the e-mail from the tree. For name addresses, the name will be added to your list of recipients. For name lists, all the name addresses in the list will be added to your list of recipients. For all other objects, the owner of the object will be added to your recipient list.

In the New Object dialog, select Mail Message and then fill in the rest of the fields. For mail messages, the owner of the object is the sender of the message, and the name of the object is the subject of the message. Once you've filled in those fields, we'll move to step two.

Next you'll see the familiar name-picking dialog that has already been described in the Name List section above. Use it to pick all the recipients of your message. Once you've finalized the list, then move on to step three. The last step is just entering the message itself. Like page text and comments, the mail message is HTML, and you'll see some inserted into the box when you first view it.

After you have finished composing your message, then click OK to send it. A copy of the message will then be placed in the recipients' mailboxes.

Home Objects

Many of you out there have your own home pages on the Web. These are places that people can go to find out information about you. Just as you have a home page, each of your fictional characters on Shadowland can have a home object. I use the term object rather than page, because in Shadowland you could make a folder or a chat room your home object. You don't have to limit yourself to necessarily having a single home page.

Setting a Character's Home Object - To make an object into your home object, you should first select the object in the tree. Then select Set as Home Object from the File menu. Pick the appropriate character and then hit OK. For example, to set FastJack's Matrix Joint folder as FastJack's home object, I'd select the Matrix Joint folder in the tree and then select FastJack from the name list.

Jumping to a Home Object - You can jump right to a character's home object by selecting an object that that character owns, e.g., a comment or a page. Then select Jump to Home Object from the File menu or click on the button on the toolbar. Note that if you select a Name Address, then it is the name specified in the address that will be used (rather than the owner of the Name Address).

If no home object is set for a particular character, then nothing will happen when you try to jump.

Access Control

Normally when you make an object in the tree, anyone can see it. Sometimes you might want to make a private folder or page. For example, you might be running a private game, and would therefore want to prevent people who don't belong to the game from posting to the pages. Or perhaps you need to prevent some players from seeing what another player is up to. In this case you wouldn't even allow those players to read the page at all!

Shadowland provides a general-purpose mechanism for customizing access to your objects. This is accomplished through Access Control Lists. Every object has one, and by customizing this list, you can describe exactly what other people are allowed to see or do regarding your object. To edit the access level of your object, you can select Edit Access... from the Edit menu or you can click on the button on the toolbar.

There are four different kinds of access levels that you can grant to users. They are as follows:

Read - Allows users to view your object. If this flag isn't set, then the user won't even be able to see the contents of your object, although they will still be able to see it in the tree. The user won't be allowed to open the object in the tree if the read flag is not set. Use the Read flag to grant or deny access to the contents of a page or folder.

Create - Allows users to add to the contents of your object. If this flag isn't set, then the user won't be allowed to put things onto/into your object. Use the Create flag to grant/deny the ability to create objects in your folders, to post comments to pages, or to send messages in chat rooms.

Edit - Allows the user to perform the and commands on your object, assuming the object supports the commands to begin with. Note that even if you do grant this ability to other users, they won't be able to change the owner of the object, so there's no way another user can steal your object away if you grant this privilege.

Administer - Allows the user to perform the command on your object, although they can't take away your access, so don't worry about that. You, as the owner of the object, can always access it.

All objects have a notion of Default Access. In other words, there's a certain default behavior that Shadowland relies on to figure out what to do with your object when another user tries to access it. All objects by default have Read and Create access. Users can see your objects by default, and they can add to them by default. They cannot, however, edit the fundamental properties or data of the object.

The Access Control dialog is shown on the left. Through this dialog you can customize your object's access, changing either its default access behavior or defining new behavior for specific users only.

The way users are added and removed from a list like the one in the dialog is covered already in the Name Lists section above. The only difference is that there's an additional entry for Default Access in this list.

If you select an item in this list, the current access level granted for that user will be shown in the checkboxes below the list. To grant or deny permissions for that user, just check or decheck the boxes associated with each permission. Shadowland will remember all of your changes, so you can move from user to user in the tree, setting the permissions for each one until you're ready to apply all of your changes.

If a character is found in this list, then Shadowland will give the owner of that character the access that you specify. Otherwise the Default Access will be used.

Note that Access Control is utterly ineffective at barring a single runner from one of your objects, so don't try to use it that way. (A user could always create a new account or a new character that you don't have on the list.) Use it instead to restrict the general Shadowland public while granting additional privileges to specific users. This is really the only way in which access control will be effective.


So you wanna learn HTML, huh? All the content on Shadowland uses HTML or a subset of HTML, so it's important to know how it works. So what is this crazy HTML anyway? HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language, and it's the language that Web browsers like Netscape and IE use to display text in a fancy souped-up format. HTML is the way you tell browsers to put pretty pictures into your pages, to put links to other pages into your pages, to make text bold or italic or colored, and to do all sorts of cool things with formatting and layout.

The single most important fact to keep in mind regarding HTML is that it ignores line breaks. If you hit the Enter key to break a line, then HTML will ignore you.

The way you tell HTML how to do stuff is through the use of special strings called tags. These tags always begin with a < and end with a >. For example, the <br> tag will tell your Web browser to put a line break between two lines of text. Some tags denote the starting of a style that won't end until you supply a close tag. Close tags have the same name as the opener tags, but with a / in front of the name. For example, <b> turns on bold text and </b> turns off bold text.

The most common error HTML novices make on Shadowland is to post a comment where they use a <b> tag and then forget the </b> close tag. All the rest of the text on the page is then printed in BOLD and you can see how this would get really annoying if you forgot to turn it off. You'd see something like this, where the paragraph would contain far more bold text than it should.

So remember to supply the close tag. Here's a list of some of the more common tags that are used on Shadowland. Following a description of these tags, I'll cover a few special scenarios that people tend to ask about a lot.

<b> and </b> - Used for bold text. <b>Street Samurai</b> becomes Street Samurai.
<i> and </i> - Used for italicized text. <i>Street Samurai</i> becomes Street Samurai.
<p> - Used to denote a paragraph break. Causes two lines to be skipped.
<br> - Used to denote a single line break. Causes one line to be skipped.
<font> and </font> - Used to change the face or color of text. <font color=#00ffff>Hi there!</font> becomes Hi there!, and <font face="Haettenschweiler">Hoi, chummer!</font> becomes Hoi, chummer!. Colors are specified using six digit hexadecimal RGB values preceded by a # sign.

Customizing Page Colors - To use a different background or to customize page colors, you should look at the special <body> tag thats included in your page text by default. It has a number of settings (attributes) inside it that you can change. BACKGROUND is a URL that points to the image that should be used for the background. BGCOLOR lets you set the background color of the page (which you'll only see if you don't use a background image). TEXT lets you set the foreground color, how the text will look. VLINK, ALINK, and LINK let you set the colors for links on your page.

Making a Colored Name - You can make a fancy colored name (like many people do in chat) by using the <font> tag and by specifying different colors. For example, you could say <font color=#400000>Beelzebub</font> to make a nice dark red name.

There's much more that you can do with HTML, and you should consult a good HTML reference for more information if you want to learn more about it.

The Shadowland Client API (SLCAPI)

The SLCAPI is a collection of public Java functions that you can call from within your Shadowland Web pages. In effect, you can drive Shadowland from your pages! Examples of things you can do include creating a comment button, making a link to another object in the tree that will cause the object to be selected in the tree when the user clicks on it, creating a mail button, making a link to your archive, and placing buttons/links to home objects.

IMPORTANT: The SLCAPI only works on the Windows platform and only with IE4 and Netscape 4. Be aware of this if you're thinking about putting SLCAPI calls onto your pages.

All of the API functions are invoked in the same way through the use of JavaScript URLs. So any link you make with an SLCAPI function will always have the following format:

<a href="javascript:opener.document.Browser.FUNCTION_NAME_AND_ARGS">Click me!</a>

Currently supported functions include:

public void selectObject(String name, int window)
Name is the path to the object, and window is an integer specifying which window to select the object in. Name can be the special identifier _current, which causes the current object to be selected.

public void newObject(String name)
Causes a new object dialog to pop up with the object specified by name as the parent. The keyword _current can be used to simply pop up a dialog on the current selected object.

public void addToAddressBook(String site, String name)
Given a site and a character, the character will be added to the user's address book.

public void addToFavorites(String name)
The path to a node is specified in name. This node is added to the user's Favorites.

public void sendChatInvitation(String site, String name)
Given a site and a character, the user can attempt to engage in a private chat with that character.

public void sendMail(String site, String names)
Given a site and a comma-separated list of recipients, the user can send a mail message to all the recipients.

public void viewArchive(String name)
Causes the archive for the object specified by name to be displayed. Obviously, name needs to be a page.

public void jumpHome(String site, String name)
Given a site and a runner, the home object will be displayed.

An example then of an SLCAPI link to Reality Check on Shadowland would be as follows:

<a href="javascript:opener.document.Browser.selectObject('Shadowland/Reality Check', 1)">Reality Check</a>

Logging Out

If you examine the Window menu in the browser, you'll see a number of options for getting out of Shadowland. Whenever you close all windows, the system automatically logs you out without changing any of your read/seen information. You can choose the option Catch Up and Close All Windows to log out of the site and mark everything as being read and seen while you do so.

IMPORTANT: It is highly recommended that you perform this operation on a regular basis as it substantially reduces the size of your user information. Shadowland has to individually track every object you've seen or read. This information can get rather large. Whenever you do a Catchup, you effectively perform a reset, and your user file empties out. Going for long periods of time without performing a Catchup will result in a slight degradation of performance.

A History of Shadowland

When I was at Rice University from 1990-1994 for undergraduate school, I started a play-by-email game for Shadowrun. This game, entitled Romany Star, began in 1993 and lasted into 1994. During the summer of '94, I got a job working on an HTML Web browser for a group at the university. At the time I knew absolutely nothing about the Web and nothing about HTML.

Shadowland I was nothing more than my Shadowrun pages on the Web. The pages used only HTML 1.0 and weren't all that sophisticated. They consisted mostly of e-mail logs from the Romany Star game, formatted in HTML and hyperlinked so that the players could keep up with the game history easily.

I got the idea for doing a truly interactive Web site after discovering Andrew J. Park's Shadowspawn Guild. If Shadowland could be said to have a granddaddy, then Andrew Park's site would be it. The Shadowspawn Guild allowed users to post comments as individual runners to a single page. That's about all it did, but the single idea of allowing users to interact through the posting of HTML comments sent my mind racing. It was my goal at that point to produce an online community devoted specifically to Shadowrun. It would be modeled after FASA's Shadowland, and users would be able to link up with other Shadowrun characters and explore what their runners did during their "down time" between runs.

Shadowland II was born in the summer of 1995. I had just finished my first year of graduate school at the University of Illinois, and the research assistantship that I held that summer wasn't demanding much of my time. So I had some room to spare for my own coding efforts. SL2 was implemented using CGI scripts and simple forms. The scripts were written in the C programming language and were incredibly simplistic. SL2 had simple user accounts, and in each of the three areas, you could make only pages. The pages themselves could have comments posted to them from individual runners, and pages could even be archived.

The site itself ran from the Teaching Assistant machines in the CS department at U of I. You can still find links to the site (http://ta3.cs.uiuc.edu:8000/) all over the Web! Some people don't update their Web pages often. ;)

SL2 was a big success, and at its peak it had over 1000 users. Although popular, SL2 suffered from some serious limitations. The single biggest problem with SL2 was a lack of organization. Each of the three groups (The Real World, Shadow Talk, and Meet the Runners) consisted of flat page lists, and these got longer and longer until they were practically unmanagable. Another serious flaw with SL2 was the inability to tell which pages had changed since your last visit. You just had to crawl through the hundreds of pages looking for new stuff. Casual users didn't have the patience for this and became disinterested quickly with the site.

Shadowland III (1995) attempted to correct these problems. This time around the site used frames, so that the "site map" was persistent. It was re-designed from the ground up, and the CGI scripts were written entirely in C++. The concept of read and unread information was added so that users could quickly find only the pages that had changed since their last visit. The concept of the folder was added, although folders could only exist at the topmost level of the hierarchy.

SL3 remains the single most popular version of Shadowland. After a series of enhancements, Shadowland III peaked at version 3.7, and it remained in existence for a full year (late 1995 to 1996). During the later versions a primitive HTML-based chat system was even added, and a dice roller for Shadowland was created.

Brian Morin of Laserlink Network Services (www.laserlink.net) discovered SL3 and offered to host the site on behalf of his company. That's when SL actually moved off the TA machines and became www.shadowland.org. It was also during this time that Shadowland branched out to encompass other roleplaying systems. A sister site was created called The Hunting Ground, and it was devoted toWhite Wolf's World of Darkness. The two sites were completely separate; each had its own home page, login, color scheme, and user base.

I was (and still am) quite happy with the way Shadowland III turned out. It was reasonably easy to use and provided many of the capabilities that are at the core of Shadowland today. When Java came on the scene, however, everything changed. I realized that for the first time, real-time communication would be feasible. I could make a real chat utility, and I could make pages and folders become unread or read and allow users to open and close folders without forcing the user to reload a 500K Web page that contained the folder/page lists.

Shadowland IV made its debut in late 1996, and this codebase is the one that SL6 is derived from. The servers (both the chat server and the regular server) were Java applications, and the client was a Java applet. The Web server no longer stood between the user and what I wanted to accomplish with the site. This is still the way things are done today.

SL4 added the concept of Favorites, and it updated pages/folders in real time to become read/unread. The concept of the marker was refined. (It had been introduced for certain pages in SL3, but not as a general concept.) The first chat utility was implemented, and the site got a lot faster. There were five separate sites (Shadowrun, Battletech, Earthdawn, WoD, and Star Wars) and as with SL3 each had its own login screen and separate tree. You couldn't easily switch between sites like you can today.

Unfortunately I jumped on the Java bandwagon a little early. The shift from SL3 to SL4 cut out a lot of users, and an unanticipated problem regarding firewalls arose. I hadn't known that this problem was going to occur. In addition, many users simply didn't have machines powerful enough to handle Java. And so SL4 had a relatively small user base. Nevertheless, the users who could use SL4 absolutely loved it.

Shadowland V rolled out in 1997, and user membership swelled to over 4000 with the addition of a primitive non-Java site. Even before the non-Java site arrived, SL5 had about 3000 users. More and more people are able to use Java these days, catching up to a site that was arguably a little bit ahead of its time. Shadowland V added most of the additions that are in SL6 today, including the Personal Space and Aliases.

And now here we are in the present. I hope you'll stick with the site as it continues to get bigger and better. Here's to SL7, SL8, and beyond...!