Starship, aka Starship RPG, is a role-playing game wherein players build models of spaceships using LEGO bricks, LEGO related CAD, or Clone brands, and display images of such models online to share with other players. The role-playing aspect of the game is conducted primarily by email, with each player taking the role of the captain and/or crew of the imaginary ship(s) they have built for the game.
The game boasts being a collection of sub-games, called sectors. Each sector is in effect an independent game or adventure managed by a Sector Mediator (SM), who is in turn a voluntary participant. By agreeing to a few basic shared rules, the sectors are collectively part of the same galaxy. Players may fly their starships freely between sectors to experience different simultaneous adventures using the same LEGO inspired characters. To moderate galactic travel and rules discussion, all participants annually elect one of their members to have the title Galactic Mediator (GM), a name intentionally chosen as much for its initials being the same as Game Master (common in other role-playing games) as for reference to the LEGO Space set 6984 Galactic Mediator.
Rules for starship are brief, focusing mostly on ranking a few basic statistics of the starships registered by players, and how travel works in-game. Most of the role-playing emails are freeform, with SM's using registered stats as a guideline to inspire creative in-character writing.
The concept of building LEGO models to inspire role-play by email was first noted in the one-off adventure called Isle of Mist developed by Chris Maddison, Craig Hamilton, Pawel Nazerawicz, and others circa 2000. This inspired Zac Soden to offer a one-off space adventure called Sector62 in early 2002. This was followed by Spraw, mediated by Andrew Engstrom with Dan Mattia later that same year. (Spraw is now an active sector in Starship.)
As the plot of Spraw began to wrap up, several participants began discussions on what adventure might follow. The online group developed the idea of Starship as a collection of separate adventures within the same game galaxy, and by 2003 had launched the game for free to the public with rules and registries kept on websites managed by the participants. Interest grew, and by May 2003 warranted a permanent move of out-of-game discussion to a Lugnet newsgroup (lugnet.gaming.starship). Players and SM's included AFOL's from several countries on at least three continents.
During 2004 and 2005, the game encountered its greatest challenge: competing with the home life of its audience. The first elected GM, John Henderson, stepped back (though the participants decided to keep him in office), and soon after several SM's and players followed. Late in 2006, the same GM rejoined the remaining participants and began efforts to revitalize the quieting game. (Results of said efforts unknown as of this writing.)
Starship Official site.