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?