What is Studies of War & Oppression
You might be wondering "what exactly is SWO?" Well, first off, it's a joke. That's right, a joke. We're not that serious about the whole thing. I just wish that the FBI would quit asking people we know about us. Mainly, it started out as an antagonist to an organization in High School known as "Students for Peace and Justice", also known as " Students for Peanut Butter and Jelly." SWO was originally called "Students of War and Oppression", but we're no longer students, so it changed to "Studies of".
Primarily, we're a bunch of guys who've been roleplaying and wargaming together since junior-high and high-school. That's the main idea behind SWO; a gaming group whose members have many of the same interests. We're based here in Fort Collins, Colorado, and number about 12 or so. We're a pretty diverse group. Several of our number have served in the Military (Army, Navy and Marine Corps) and several members have lived abroad, in Japan, Europe, Russia and even Idaho. Talk about remote!
Shadowrun, Earthdawn, Battletech/Mechwarrior, AD&D (to include Greyhawk, Dark Sun and quite a few unique worlds), Cyberpunk:2020, Call of Cthulhu, Vampire, Rifts, Ninjas & Superspies, Star Wars, Traveller, Car Wars, and probably a few more I can't remember. Not to mention the games that we have made in the past, and ones currently under development.
History of SWO and the Ministries
It was a dark and stormy night. Many members had gathered for the Great Competition, with the victor to claim the title "Grand Poobah of SWO." The Competition was to be a game of Talisman with a few rules changes; first, the Chaos Bloodbath option would be used (where there is only one talisman in the game) so that the game would turn truly ugly. Second, all of the participants would construct and wear a Helmet of Power, made from the cardboard container of a 12-pack of Coke: The Drink of Life (or Mountain Dew for those not so stable). And third, once you were out of the competition there was to be no re-entering. Kill or be killed.
Many bloodoaths were sworn that night, but all in jest to be sure. When all was said and done, one stood atop the pile of bodies and empty soda cans: it was Matt McCormick, whose first edict as Grand Poobah was to declare himself Dictator for life. Wise move knowing these guys.
His second edict, was to declare the Ministries, so as not to upset the rabble the losers had become. A Ministry was given to each of the contestants, as well as to the few members who were not able to enter the competition but swore allegiance to the Grand Poobah. The Ministries were assigned to the other competitors on the basis of ranking (in the competition) and by the individual traits of each's Helmet of Power. We won't get into that here as the details have been lost to time, which is probably a good thing.
Nobody cares much about the ministries anymore, and nobody really pays attention to the title of the "Grand Poobah", but SWO continues to thrive. We've had SWO Fests, camping trips in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming, BBQ's, river hockey games, creek golf, snowboarding and skiing trips and t-shirts every once in a while, and we still get together to play one game or another quite regularly.