I rounded up a few of my immediate neighbors, and inside my small tower, we hammered out a loose pact to turn the area into a safe zone, a network of homes protected by the community, a neighborhood watch. The community would protect the people who lived in the valley near the Chaos shrine, innocent or murderer. The rules were simple: Anyone who attacked a neighbor was fair game, but looting anything other than weapons or spell casting materials was prohibited.
We were ruthless, but with flair, like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday in the last 45 minutes of Tombstone. We'd roll through the area on horseback, mowing down unsuspecting groups of bounty hunters not used to a fair fight. But, in some creepy sort of medieval arms race, the bounty hunters didn't run away; they came back with greater numbers. Some nights, we'd have 30 people camped outside a house, trying desperately to kill two of us.
Our little neighborhood quickly developed a reputation. We were "those PKs who killed my dragon," "those assholes who looted my sword," "a cool group of guys who hung out with me after we fought for an hour." As my love/hate relationship with UO had me quitting and re-subscribing on a bi-monthly basis, I found, each time I came back, that my enemies had missed me as much as my friends.
With each patch to the game, UO's PvP-centric population gradually died out, and I eventually joined the exodus - permanently. But every once in a great while, I'll get an IM from an old friend - or enemy - hit by a bout of nostalgia and wanting to take a stroll down memory lane, to remember the neighborhood watch and the effect it had on hundreds of players for a few short months.
I can't help but wonder what role I was playing, there. I wasn't a race's last son. I wasn't a vampire space elf. I was a community leader. I assumed a role unknown to me in real life. It might have broken the roleplaying mold, but only because it was bigger, better.
I didn't stop at UO, though. That's only when my missions stopped being serious. Say what you will about UO, but it forced people to interact, something modern MMOGs have gone to great lengths to avoid. That's why they're games rather than worlds, and that's why Raoulduke and Doctorgonzo made an appearance in World of Warcraft.
A friend and I wanted to make undead Rogues, and we liked being zany almost as much as we liked plagiarism. And lo, Duke and Gonzo, tributes to characters from Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, were born.
We raced to level 30 and prowled around contested areas, spamming film dialogue across multiple conversation channels, to the delight (and occasional dismay) of spectators across the territory. Our victims, since they couldn't actually read the text we'd spew at them, never knew it, but the indecipherable gibberish coming out of out mouths as they lay dying at our feet was usually, "Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?" or, "Never turn your back on a Rogue, especially when he's waving a razor-sharp hunting knife in your eye."
On slow nights, we'd travel around at high speeds, shouting soliloquy across the world in loud parody of Thompson's writing style, telling a fractured story as we killed monsters for experience or snuck around looking for our next human quarry. Even death didn't stop us. If anything, the surrealistic notion of resurrection fit into our schtick.