RULE NO. 1: Don’t Diminish The PCs! 

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Let player characters intervene in unexpected ways to situations.

This rule is the most important but the hardest to follow through considering the limited resources available to a Game Master.  It’s also tricky because the players are often moving through a complex world and there’s always going to be entities, groups and even individuals who are far more powerful than them.

Encourage interactivity.  Always.  If you can find a way to make something dependent on player actions, go for it.

Share the spotlight.  This is where skill variety, character ties or factional connections can really shine.  Find a way to keep everyone involved and connected in the story.

Even when NPCs are talking to each other, player involvement should matter.  If two NPCs are going to have at each other, keep it short and snappy and let PC interactions dominate the discussion.  If they throw out a few comments here and there, make those comments matter.

Also bear in mind that a small group of 6 watching two NPCs argue with each other is far more impactful than a crowd of 30 — because that small group of 6 know that their choices (whether silence or involvement) will be more meaningful to the discussion and not devolve it into an unintentional chaos of 30 people randomly shouting at two NPCs.

PCs should also have a vested interest in the outcomes of the conversation and should have some capacity to interact with it.  Two force shielded bad guys waxing lyrical at each other is boring — though if the PCs are trying to distract them or set them at war with each other it can get a whole lot more interesting.

Let them make decisions and let those decisions matter.  If they take hostages, don’t just immediately free them.  That undoes their decision.  If their decisions go off-script in a way that damages the game itself (i.e. they have taken all six cast members hostage) then find a compromise.  Perhaps you remove the hostage’s phys-reps (i.e. cast members) and say they are locked behind a closed door.  Maybe you upfront tell the player base that this isn’t a game of arrests and hostage taking and get them in on the ground floor with how the game will play out.

Don’t criticise them for stupidity for doing what their characters would do — but do provide them with alternative options if their characters would know them.  A lot of players aren’t highly trained professionals in crisis negotiation and SWAT tactics.  Providing them with a set of dot points or the occasional nudge that suits their skill selection can be appreciated.  Never tell them the path they should take.  In other words, provide them with the tools to make their choices — don’t tell them which choices they should make.

Make the character’s suffering *about* the characters and not about the villains.  This is kind of a hard thing to describe but basically what it boils down to is that if the villain is torturing a PC, it’s the actions and reactions of the PCs that matter.  Keep the spotlight on them and their feelings toward the villain — not on the villain’s moustache twirling.  You can do this through a variety of mechanisms depending on the style of game and players involved:

  • Avoid gagging the player character. That way their threats, pleas or silence are all valid options.
  • Redirect their attention to the suffering player character rather than away from it.

If the players think of a way to destroy your schemes and machinations, let them, and build on it.  Give them the win.  Let them have a cool thing.  If they take out your big boss early, maybe throw out a few waves of minions and create something new for later.  Players absolutely love scheming their way through your plans for a reason.  It means their choices really have made a difference.

The more often powerful items and factions and NPCs show up in the game, the more they must be reliant, in some way, on player actions.  No one likes an unstoppable spirit showing up in-game … except when that spirit can be summoned, negotiated with, empowered and sent at their enemies!  Keep the players centre stage so that the glories of more powerful elements are reflected on them.  Any exceptions to this rule are best treated as a force of nature that guides the PC’s actions and gives them something to bounce off of.  Players will react better to an invulnerable NPC they must hide from or lure away than one they have to obey unless the complexities of obedience is the story — in which case the NPC is a force of nature anyway.

These are just a handful of ways to keep the players feeling like they’re relevant and that their characters are the protagonists.  Do you have any additional ideas?

Plot Barriers Part 2

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Sometimes plot is obvious, sometimes it’s subtle.

When players feel they don’t have enough plot, what they normally mean is there are serious issues preventing them from getting much out of the plot they do have.  There are often a number of reasons why they can feel this way and there’s a bunch of things that can be done to change it.  Here are some reasons why you might be feeling disconnected to plot:

Someone might be trying to protect the plot for emotional reasons or just might not realise your relevance to it.  This might even involve higher ups within your character’s team actively removing your character from the plot line.  This issue can come up when the GM weaves people into the same plot from different directions.  Someone wants to protect their loved one but that loved one is the only witness, and possible culprit, of a situation you want to investigate.  Naturally the other character wants to protect them but you really need answers….

There might be an in-game misunderstanding or issue that you’re not aware of.  After all, if your character keeps talking about setting off the atom bomb it makes sense for the other characters to restrict their access to it!  Or it might be that the authorities attempts to block you *is* the plot (turns out your boss is a turncoat!) and that exploring their motives would be a worthwhile angle.

  1. Firstly try to see the situation as a challenge. Find ways of distracting them away or negotiate to have a chance to talk to them.
  2. If that doesn’t work perhaps your character’s reputation plays a part. It makes no sense for them to give you access to their loved one if it’s likely your character will assassinate their loved one in seconds (especially if they’ve vowed to do as much in earshot of that other character).  If this is the case, either find ways to modify your character’s reputation or have a sincere OOC conversation with involved players about how you can get the next piece to the puzzle.
  3. Maybe a third party could play a conciliatory role or get you an in on the plot-line you’re after. This has the added benefit of getting extra players involved.

There’s no time to actually touch your particular plot.  Everyone is busy dealing with the central plot that there’s just no time to actually do the thing or discuss the issue that is central to your character.  It may be that the GM isn’t providing enough time for general conversation and activities or it might be that your character is just busier than the others.

This can sometimes be solved by quick in-character conversations between games (if allowed by your campaign), being super-organised in wrangling people for 5 minutes during the game or by writing out brief notes that you can hand out that detail what you need from others.  Sometimes it might be that you’re trying to stay on top of all the plot in the game which isn’t always possible.

In the end, no one character can tackle all things so if you’re trying to be on top of two sub-plots and a main plot you’re going to run yourself ragged.  However, if there’s just a single sub-plot you’re trying to focus on and it’s impossible to even talk about because giant plots keep striding through the room every 10 seconds that everyone *had* to get involved in then definitely talk to the Game Master.

You just don’t think the plot is very relevant or very interesting.  Or you don’t trust that it will be fun to explore.  This may, or may not, be the categorical truth but it certainly feels that way so you avoid it.  This can be a hard one to tackle.  Everyone has their own idea of what’s fun and it can be hard to tell the Game Master “No Thanks.”  Especially if it’s already entered play in a public way.  So what do you do?

When having such a conversation, be calm and nonjudgmental.  Don’t tell them the plot “sucks”.  That kind of blank negative criticism is just going to make them defensive and it’s probably not categorically true.  Different players like different things.  Instead tell them that the plotline doesn’t interest you or negatively impacts the direction you want to take your character in a way that just isn’t fun for you.  Reassure them that others probably would find it fun (someone probably would) and that you’d like to find some way out to disentangle your character from the plot-line.  If you have any ideas, now’s a good time to give them.  Ideally three potential exits as it gives the Game Master the most wiggle room in case your first exit plan doesn’t work due to plot reasons.

Please note if you don’t want personal plot flung at you out of nowhere, let the GMs know that as well.  Be mindful, though, that this will mean that you will need to be more proactive with plot.  You mayneed to either approach the Game Master with ideas or you may need to focus on other people’s plot-lines rather than take a starring role.  The benefit of this is that you have full control of your character, their history and their involvement (to a point).  The downside is that you have to work harder to find plot relevant to your character.  It’s always a balancing act but only you (in concert with your GMs) can find the right place for you.

Plot Barriers Part 1

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Once you have plot you need to know what to do with it….

Most often when I hear complaints that a player doesn’t have enough plot, what they normally mean is there are serious issues preventing them from getting much out of the plot they do have.  In some cases I’ve been able to show entire laundry lists of plot connections that a particular character has, but the player will sincerely feel that they don’t have any plot worth a damn.  Often this boils down to one of several issues:

 

The player can’t do much with their plot hooks because other characters aren’t paying any attention to it for whatever reason.  Interactivity in LARP is key so without other players buying into it, it can’t become part of the focus.  This often boils down to other characters not realising the relevance of the plot you have to their character’s situation.  Folks are often bombarded with stuff to do at most LARPs and during the quiet times they are busy trying to *find* stuff to do.  This means that they won’t always pick up on the ramifications of what you’ve just said.  If you’re finding it difficult to hook others into the plot you have, perhaps try the following:

  1. Look around the room and find those who are experiencing a quiet time for their character and then give them a summary of the situation. “Look, I know how to do Blah but I need Blah to do it.”
  2. Think about their character’s feeling sand needs and centre your issue accordingly. “If we get this done then we don’t have to do Blah which might save a lot of lives.” 
  3. If that doesn’t work, exit the conversation in a character appropriate way and move swiftly to someone else and try a few times until you see someone’s eyes light up. Trust me, there’ll be people in that room who get what you’re trying to say and are keen to get involved.  It might just take a few goes.

Plot seems minor and irrelevant compared to other players’ plots.  Sometimes this is because the plot hooks’ connection to other characters or the central storyline is unclear.  Sometimes it’s because the player isn’t confidant dragging other players into it or emphasising its importance.  Sometimes it’s true.  And sometimes it’s just a mismatch between the players’ interest and the plot hooks their characters have access to.  Perhaps the hook you have might be loved by others, but not by you.

The path to engage with the plot isn’t clear.  Your character has a strange dream but there are no mechanics on how to draw more details from that dream.  Or the plot might not appear accessible even though it is — such as you might feel you can only approach your contact when the NPC shows up in-game whereas you could call them at any time.  Often Game Masters don’t clearly explain the ways you can interact with plot or they throw you something that looks cool but doesn’t actually offer much interactivity.  Alternatively there might be a wide array of things you can do with it but it’s not immediately apparent.  So what do you do if this comes up?

  1. First try and engage with the plot in good faith, check around the location, and chat to people to see if anyone knows anything or has any idea on what you can do with it. It can often help to give it as a summary and then follow up with a question to them.  “I know this guy who has a bunch of information, but I don’t know how to reach him.  Any ideas?”
  2. Brainstorm possible angles that you could approach the issue with. Ideally involve other interested characters in this.  You’ll all be looking at the same situation with your character’s own skills, experience and point of view so you’ll get more ideas if you include more people.
  3. If none of that works you can approach the GM and say: “I’m really interested in following up Blah. Any ideas on what I can try next?”  You can even throw in a: “I’ve tried Blah, Blah and Blah thus far,” so they know what you’ve done and what hasn’t worked.  After all, maybe the answer *was* in the room but another character moved it.  If the Game Master knows you’ve already searched the room then they know not to send you looking again.

NOTE: Sometimes plots are legitimately inaccessible for a couple sessions.  If that’s the case then the Game Master should be willing to tell you that there’s not much you can do … yet.

 

Getting Your Hands On Plot

31189981_10211339470713748_5364121042660884480_nOne of the most common complaints in any LARP is how to get your hands on more plot.  Plot being defined as compelling connections to the greater world or the overarching themes or wider narratives of the game.  It involves being able to make a meaningful connection to how the game plays out.  Being involved in plot is a two-way dance between GM creations and player actions and if you want to become more tied within the weave you can take some of the following steps.

First check if you have any plot.  You don’t have any plot?  Are you sure?  Sometimes it’s worth checking with the GM if you think you have no plot as you may be surprised at the large plot hooks that your character may have which you may have forgotten about or overlooked.  Significant chunks of time between sessions can often leave key facts by the wayside.  Seriously I’ve seen players overlook massive game-changing information and connections they had because time had obscured its relevance.

If you really don’t have any plot, contact the GMs (ideally between sessions) and ask them if there’s anything your character could be connected to or even suggest certain plotlines you’d like to be tied into.  Your best bet is to be relatively vague about this because GMs will be trying to find ways to connect you to existing plot even if in an unexpected fashion rather than create something entirely new.  If they create brand new plot for you, great!, but they might not be able to do so in a way that is immediately relevant.

Contacting GMs can also be useful because sometimes they will have made general offers of plot that you might have turned down or never responded to and if that happens a few times then they’ll assume you want them to take a hands off approach with your character.  If that’s the case, then that’s absolutely fine.  Some folks prefer making their own fun!  But if it’s not the case then you may have to let them know.

Finally, if you want to tap into plot be mindful that the essence of all story is conflict.  This means that plot of all kinds will have its benefits and its drawbacks, its pain and its enjoyment, and that it may interact with your character in unexpected ways.  If you want to maintain complete control of your character then you’ll need to focus on either engaging central plot (stories affecting the entire room) or leverage the plot affecting other characters.  Asking GMs to weave your character into the plot might just not be fun for you otherwise.

In the next article we’ll talk about barriers to engaging with plot and then we’ll talk about what to do with plot once you have it.

Saturday Godegian

Saturday Godegian

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The Valbians were a people from a neighboring country who came to help.

SATURDAY AS A GODEGIAN

Once my Cregan was dead, I went to dress up as a Godegian alongside the person who had played the wannabe defector.  We decided to be sisters, and to be the cousins of Jack, who had thus far spent much of the game being beaten down and tortured.  We then entered the game by sneaking around the back of the buildings, trying to get to chapel where we thought we would be safe.  I made it up there without being spotted but she was seen, and two of the Cregans came up to fetch us.  I had a little dagger but it was easily knocked from my hands.

We were forced to kneel and then sent into the restaurant with the others.  We then had an Out-of-Character break where we could eat dinner and chat for awhile with plans to re-establish our character ties and then set the game one week later.

My character ended up the pet of the new Cregan pyromancer.  She continued to act skittish and insane and utterly broken, hoping to use that to survive.  I also forged a lasting tie with another character who was my best friend in youth.  We were both thugs in youth though mine preferred to distract with magic tricks while she did the coshing.

  • The new pack was far more organised than the last, in part because they were designed as a group, rather than as a set of individuals with leverage points that the Godegians could use against us. This made them a very good end-game pack as there was less wiggle room with this lot.
  • One of the Cregans found the apothecary’s doctor’s mask, wore it on his forehead and pronounced himself “Bird.” He took a liking to Jack and it was stated that each night he took Jack down into the cellar to torture.
  • The Pup was still around and he kept trying to convince the Alpha to kill his father for his weakness, but the Alpha wanted that Cregan die in honourable combat and was giving him time as a Godegian “pig” to help him turn back toward the light.
  • The Pup actually had mercy marks on his arms (marks that appear when you save a life out of mercy) which he hid all game. When I saw them, I asked the Cregans about what kind of tattoos they wore and the Pup so viciously condemned tattoos as likely to cause death that she went silent, not understanding but feeling there was something more happening there.
  • The Pup was in love with an Arwinnian woman who was a travelling sex worker. He tried to woo her rather awkwardly with cloaks and flowers and special treatment.  She knew about his mercy marks and felt somewhat sorry for him.
  • We were split up into two groups, each guarded by two Cregans, and one lot cleaned the tavern while the other lot cleaned up the other rooms.
  • When there were sightings of Valbian rangers (people from another country known for their poisons and sneaking), we were then forced together as a big group in the barracks where we told the Cregans jokes and made up stories to keep our spirits up. We found a note from a Valbian pressed up against the window that threatened the Cregans.  As they were illiterate, we had to read it out to them.
  • They gave us all numbers that we had to call out. Though my character was first in the queue she asked for the number “four” and was given it.  We then had to keep sounding off here and there.
  • While cleaning up the other rooms, we would make a lot of noise while doing it so that the Valbians knew where we were at all times. Although it was a rather pointless exercise that nearly got us all beaten, or worse, it *felt* important to have that little act of resistance.
  • We ended up being hauled into the restaurant to wait. We mainly served the Cregans and sang songs in the corner, hoping against hope that we would survive until tomorrow.
  • The half-Cregan butcher (a villager who had been recruited into the Cregans because of his lineage) went out and was startled by a ranger. Thinking it was the Valbian ranger (it was the Cregan ranger), he declared that he wasn’t a Cregan but a Godegian and wanted to help.  Then he saw which ranger it was and tried to lie.  The Cregan ranger reported on him to the other Cregans and then took him outside to be executed.  Apparently when the Cregan ranger went to kill him, the butcher used a knife he’d hid up his shirt to stab him several times and the ranger fell to the ground, dying.  The Valbian ranger finally came forward and when the Cregan’s eyes opened, he got to see the Valbian’s face and have a short conversation before being killed.  Very cool.
  • The Valbians ended up negotiating with the Cregans via our priest.  If the Cregans left us alive and departed tomorrow morning, they would get to live.  The Alpha agreed to that, though he was enraged at having to do so.
  • My character inhaled a handful of dust to set off a realistic coughing fit, pleading to be taken outside as there wasn’t enough air indoors. This nearly caused the Alpha to kill her but the pyromancer happened to get up at the right moment and that defused the situation.  While I coughed on the grass, staring off into the darkness, my friend headed off under guard to collect the required herbs and then we were all taken back inside.
  • The Cregan Alpha sent two of the slaves off with the priest to the Valbians as a show of good faith.
  • Later the Valbians and our Godegians who’d been sent off as a show of good faith, then killed the Alpha highborn on the way to bed.  They then attacked the others through the windows of the tavern. The pyromancer grabbed me as a human shield and dragged me outside, positioning me between them and the Valbians / freed villagers.  Luckily I was wearing a Valbian cloak that I’d pinched off a branch that had belong to the apothecary’s husband.  That cloak attached at the throat via a clasp, and that was what the pyromancer had hold of, not the full robed coat underneath.  So I slipped the clasp under the very tree that the cloak had once hung from, and fled toward the Valbians.  That cloak saved my character’s life.
  • I made it — they fled into the barracks. The last two remaining Cregans.
  • The pyromancer set fire to herself in the barracks.
  • The pup barely made it out alive. His father wanted to slay him, but Jack and the others stayed his hand.  The pup had to leave at dawn, but the Arwinnian sex worker was willing to go with him.
  • And thus ended the Occupation of Lilydale.

 

The Sunday mainly consisted of a few fun “Release the Godegian” scenarios, a hearty breakfast of delicious pancakes, and then a whole bunch of cleaning up!  There were war stories aplenty as we all found out what happened, to whom and why it had went down like that.  So much fun was had!  Those little dot points barely cover off on a quarter of what I got up to, let alone everyone else.  I can very much recommend that game!

Saturday Cregan

Saturday Cregan

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Theatrical techniques were used to make situations look far more real than they were.

SATURDAY AS A CREGAN

We woke up early shortly after dawn and though several of us wanted to sleep in, as one rose so did others until there was a chain reaction of everyone getting up barring the Alpha and the Arvan slave.  We were out before the Godegians were up.  Dmitri, a trueborn Alpha who was more powerful than Rhaegar, arrived and we Cregans scrambled to keep him happy.  He told us to awaken Rhaegar and so we did so.

Dmitri accused Rhaegar of being a weak dog, challenged him to an honour duel, beat him and then left him alive — taking him as a slave!  Unfortunately Cregan slaves could still hold their original position so he remained our Alpha.  My Arvan slave had made Dmitri a glorious silver greatsword which he used for the battle — he then broke off part of the crossguard and quietly gave it to me.  He instructed me to kill Rhaegar should he kill any more Cregans or too many more villagers.

My Arvan slave then attacked Rhaegar, accusing him of being less of a Cregan than himself, but he was easily beaten down.  I would have killed him myself, though I were proud of him, but Dmitri said we needed good smiths so instead I took him into the cellar to hurt him enough to make Rhaegar less angry with me.  Since I was proud of my Arvan slave, I told him the scars would make him more Cregan and I marked him with a knife in the same places that pyromancer marks us before battle.  I asked him if he had enough silver to make a small knife, and he said that he did.

Other highlights:

  • Having to be the more reasonable Cregan because it’s hard to tie consequences to causes when people were being randomly brutalised.  Trying to convince the villagers to police their own by threatening their family members.
  • Seeing Rhaegar attack and break the limbs of a Cregan who had refused to follow him — and going up to stab him a dozen times in the chest with the silver dagger. He was so shocked he writhed in pain without being able to draw his sword.
  • Knowing that being a purely mortal and non-magical Alpha would get her killed, but feeling too duty-bound to avoid taking on that role after she slew Rhaegar. Then trying to maintain control with only four other known Cregans (only ones remaining from the original pack) with additional reinforcements coming who were unknown to her.
  • My Arvan slave dying in the barracks, stabbed multiple times, when he came across a defiant slave who was trying to steal from us.  He’d stabbed her once but she shivved him multiple times because he found her stealing from the chest.  Seeing my favourite slave dead, my character had her tortured and horribly killed in front of everyone.
  • Dealing with a Taelan merchant who came around to sell drugs.  It was funny because I had played a Taelan High Lord in a previous campaign, so I felt out-of-character protective toward him and felt a real sensation of horror upon his arrival.  Pushing those feelings to one side so that I could be ready to slay him easily — though since he wasn’t a Godegian he was given better treatment by everyone.
  • The Avarician tax collector arriving and getting all my pack drunk while I was in the attic sorting out family trees for the entire village from the priest and mayor so that I could promise punishments to loved ones, rather than individuals, to reduce their feelings of bravery.
  • The alcoholic torturer being found drunk at her post at the barracks and telling her off alongside a known war hero Cregan that had just arrived.  She challenged the war hero with her dagger, he had a sword, and after she was critically wounded she refused healing and wandered off.  When the apothecary confronted her by the cellar stairs, wanting to heal her, the torturer pulled away and the character fell down the stairs and died.  No one really believed that’s what happened but Evzenia needing the apothecary as a replacement let her live.
  • Finding out that the pyromancer and her baby were wanted by a head pyromancer of the priesthood who fathered it and that he had put out a bounty on both their heads. Deciding to instead kill the bounty hunter after speaking to a pack-mate….  Finding the Godegian priest had already slain the bounty hunter by snapping his neck (she’d thought the man had been pushed down the stairs).
  • Getting the Taelan to escort the pyromancer dressed in the plain clothes of a scout to his ship. The official story is that he had promised a bounty for his freedom and that we had sent her to collect.  The truth was that I wanted her to be able to escape.  She was pretending to be a random Cregan and had to leave her baby behind which I promised to watch over.
  • When someone asked what happened to the pyromancer, I told the Cregans that she had gone to collect a tally of surviving villagers in surrounding farms.  A Cregan ranger said that he’d send someone to help her later on.  When he was later found dead, I assumed it was due to the pyromancer and didn’t realise that we had a traitor Cregan in our midst.
  • The pyromancer’s baby had his hair dyed black with charcoal wash and was given to the apothecary and the Valbian ranger to look after. It was claimed to have been picked up from a neighbouring farm.
  • Being challenged by the war hero to an honour duel for Alpha, winning, and getting us both healed by the priest who had secret powers that involved transferring injuries to corpses. The war hero than had to head off to help control the outlying farms.
  • Now down to only two trusted Cregans (one of them a pup) and a few random Cregans from elsewhere.  I failed to maintain control of the pack or the village.
  • Being told by the mayor that the new Cregan ranger and a suspicious slave were getting awfully close and that I should keep an eye on that. Telling the ranger that very rumour because I didn’t believe it.  The ranger thought the apothecary and the Valbian had told the secrets he’d given them in confidence and so he slew them and was killed in turn.  The Godegian he’d wanted to protect fled but was later slaughtered.
  • Having the pyromancer’s dead baby brought to me (represented by a doll) moments after my remaining pack-mates telling me I needed to get the village under control.  The baby had died in the brawl.  Looking at the two remaining pack-mates plus the one random who spoke of desertion and realising that regaining control now was impossible.
  • Hearing that the Alphas were coming to remove me, and assuming that I would soon be tortured for taking the position and failing to do it credit.  Knowing I couldn’t defeat a full Alpha, I thought to prevent my torture….
  • Taking the baby to a shadowy spot, laying it down to rest, pressing my spear into position in a tree and then trying to remove my cuirass for about ten minutes.  I got down to two clasps that I just couldn’t remove on my own so I returned to the barracks, lied about why I needed it off, and then left the cuirass and gambeson there.  Then I returned to the shady spot to throw myself on my spear.
  • Kneeling with the spear in position as the pack of Cregans wishing to challenge me walked past without seeing me.  The Alpha turned out to be a regular Cregan like my character but she was already dead.  Waiting there for about twenty minutes until people were sent to find me and dragged my corpse to the yard before the chapel.
  • As a corpse, watching the pup being forced to eat my heart after agreeing to serve the new Alpha. Watching his father refuse and be made to sit with the slaves.  Watching the wannabe defector refuse and be killed.  And that was the end of Evzenia’s story….
Friday Night Cregan

Friday Night Cregan

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This is a pyromancer and not Evzenia.  There were no cool pictures of Evzenia, unfortunately.

FRIDAY NIGHT

Evzenia’s story began on a dirt road, representing the path to Lilydale, with the rest of her pack while the villagers were searching for a local woman who had killed her violent husband.  Our Alpha, Rhaegar, sent Evzenia and the Pup (a brand new Cregan who had yet to achieve his first kill) over to scout around to find out how many fighters were present.  We were spotted almost immediately by a Godegian who was standing on the stairs to the chapel and who put out the call that Cregans had been spotted.

We legged it back to our Alpha, and then stormed the village as a group, striking down the guards.  In order to assert dominance over the villagers, Rhaegar pulled Jack’s wife (a character doomed to die) to the front of the group and butchered her brutally before Jack’s very eyes.  He then took the defiant Jack in chains and disappeared with him for more interrogation while Evzenia looted the remaining Godegians of their jewellery and coin and other Cregans threatened to kill them if they didn’t remove their necklaces quickly enough.

PLEASE NOTE: This game dealt with simulated torture and simulated combat only.  This was typically dealt with through theatre-style punches that didn’t connect and the use of foam weapons that were reacted to as though they were real.

Later highlights that night included:

  • Leaving the Pup to guard the villagers for ten minutes and he slashed the mayor’s face to prove his power. The mayor’s player put on a fake cut that she wore for the rest of the weekend.
  • Being given a slave to break and being told that it should only take twenty minutes while my character, the Binding Wolf, knew it’d take weeks.
  • Villagers being threatened and beaten for the smallest insults, even when doing so would make them poor workers on the farms the following day.
  • Cregans literally getting in each other’s face to psychologically beat one another down. Sometimes it actually turned violent.
  • Rhaegar having to kill a Cregan who refused to bend the knee to him.  That Cregan also called him a coward for killing the last Alpha in his sleep.
  • Searching for weapons that had been hidden about by the Godegians and finding nothing.
  • Forcing the Valbian ranger to search for the missing key to the barracks by holding his wife, an apothecary, hostage.
  • Making the Godegians carry mattresses into the barracks so the Cregans could sleep in the same room as all the treasure and loot.
  • Being told to torture the Mayor while a brutalised Jack was in the cellar with us but deciding it would be better to coerce the Mayor into thinking me the more reasonable one. So I told her to feign torture and scream really loud, and I just hit her a couple times in the shadow of the cellar arch, while Rhaegar occasionally sat on the steps and listened.  If he had actually come down, the torture would have had to turn true.
  • Dragging my character’s Arvan slave around by the chains, knowing that he was actually loyal to us and typically treated as one of us, but whom we bruised and chained so that the Godegians would attempt to draw him into their conspiracies — allowing him to then inform on them to us.
  • Being given a Godegian slave who had only recently been caught at around 11PM that night (player rocked up late) and having to deal with the pyromancer wanting to kill her because of how rude she was being. The slave was forced to cut her own cheek against a blade to show her compliance.  The character was left to sleep in the cellar (the player was able to sleep in a separate dorm room away from everyone else).

It was an interesting role as we needed to mix up being really intimidating and controlling with providing opportunities for the other players — those of the Godegians — to get to do things and influence outcomes.  They spent a fair chunk of time convincing us to kill Rhaegar by describing him as a madman who would kill us all.  The apothecary had to keep running to her tent to get supplies to help those who had been injured by the Cregans.  Her husband had some protection due to the need to keep her compliant.  Rhaegar’s constant watchfulness was also interesting as he would occasionally loom out of nowhere to see what I was doing.  Very cool.