Thursday, April 3, 2014

Player Catalysts

Sometimes, as a PC, all it takes is a particular encounter, NPC, interaction, or even single moment to redefine and/or expand character development. As a PC, these "catalysts" can serve to greatly enrich the game world and unique character perspectives. With this in mind, I have two questions:

Choose a PC or two from among your characters-- preferably a favorite one. No need to name names nor specifics.

1) What has been a defining interaction that fundamentally changed how you play(ed) that character? Why was it so meaningful?

2) What would be a moment that would serve as the needed catalyst for a PC's narrative development?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Intercon Reflections

This was my second year at Intercon, and I like to think it went very, very well. (I had some initial hesitation, as Madrigal ran the weekend before, and that's a fairly work intensive game for me.) I'm happy to say that both of the games I ran, Rabbit Run (which I co-GMd with the fabulous Albert Lin) and Dragon Palace, seemed to go very well. There are plenty of spots for improvement in both games, but, overall, we delivered stories and emotional experiences that will certainly stick with us, and will hopefully stick with the players. Moreover, in both games, we were very fortunate to have outstanding players.

I usually write about boffer larps, and the Accelerant community. Accordingly, I wanted to open up an entry to Intercon N, and people's experiences there. So, without further ado:

What were the highlights of your event? What new things did you try, and what sort of things did you learn?

Speaking for myself...

- The highlights of my event were certainly the endings of both of my games. Interacting with the players as two (entirely different) NPCs was a rewarding way to see, firsthand, how players interpreted their characters, and allowed me to explore the world with them. This is generally my highlight in full weekend events, and I was happy to see it translated over into the abbreviated time mod setting.

- The other highlight was the players-- NPCs and PCs alike. My Rabbit Run PCs are now writing (incredibly moving and evocative) post-game fiction-- fiction based on an event is one of the biggest tributes, I think, a player can offer a game runner. (I'm really spoiled in Clockwork Skies by similarly minded PCs.) And my Dragon Palace PCs completely ran with the crazy Heian-celestial cosmos I created (and one of them, the player of the Goat, gave me an awesome red dragon mask). Good PCs make a game what it is.

- In terms of places for improvement, I definitely want to run slightly longer games (standard four hours) and open up the extra hour to more time for RP. I sometimes forget, with boffer larps, the conventions of RP, and how, with the full weekend event, you have plenty of downtime to build characters.

I've had requests from players to run both games again next year. I'm pretty amenable to this idea, though Dragon Palace may be some sort of sequel or continuation, versus the same game (though you never know).

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Problem Everyone Wants to Have

Generally, in larps, the problem of too few npcs plagues weekends: despite heartfelt recruitment efforts and promises from potential monsters, the fates conspire against you, and you find yourself, at 11pm on Friday night, with no npcs. Most people have probably felt the ramifications of a low-npc weekend-- mods are cut or downsized, pc-to-npc ratios are bad, and npc fatigue hits all-time highs. Accordingly, a lot of effort has been put into bolstering npc numbers, and helping people drive up monster camp attendance.

However, "too many npcs" can also be a problem, albeit one of the champagne problems of the larp world. Recently, probably because of the increased popularity of larping in my area, I've been on the staff side of massive influxes of npcs-- seemingly out of the woodwork, I've seen monster camps filled with 30+ non-staff npcs, of whom about half are new to, if not larping, at least the Accelerant system.

This is, in many ways, a wonderful problem. However, it's still a problem: with that many people, it can be hard to find meaningful things for everyone to do-- especially if the new npcs really want to do RP parts. The combination of lack of preparation, and potential lack of comfort with brand-new npcs (especially if they arrive unexpected), can make it difficult to fully plan for npcs. Accordingly, in an over-staffed monster camp, it becomes harder to give volunteers as good an experience as possible-- this is really detrimental to the game as a whole. If people have a negative experience, not only will they be less likely to come back, but they'll be more likely to encourage friends to npc. An over-abundance of npcs, handled poorly, can quickly turn into npc shortage.

How do you deal with huge influxes of npcs (especially if those npcs include non-combat/rp-preferred people)? What are good ways to combat boredom, while simultaneously making sure that everyone is as well-briefed and prepared as possible?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Happy New Year!

Well, I'm actually a bit late with this, but Happy New Year nonetheless. I wanted to do a post specifically about the next year of larping: last year was a busy year that was punctuated by the endings and openings of various games. Now, in 2014, things have started to settle into place. So, what are you most excited about in the coming year? What sort of games do you want to try, and what games are you enthusiastic to continue? Are you instituting any major changes in your play? My answers, to get the ball rolling, follow:

  • I have a few plots that are very near and dear to my creative core. Some of their big narrative arcs are going to get going this year, and I'm excited to see in what directions players take my plot children.
  • A team of close friends and I started playing Ascendant-- not only do I love the world, but the community is really different from my (much beloved) New England one. The change of pace, and the new (to me) faces, are refreshing and add a new dynamic to my gameplay. (Also, I have discovered that eight hour road trips, with the right company, are not only bearable, but fun.)
  • I've been getting into a lot more creative writing lately-- though I mostly write for myself, game-based writing has been a welcome re-entry into storytelling.
  • I have some super secrets in the works, but, for now, they are super secrets. Nevertheless, I'll vaguely hint at them here.