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.

Occupation of Lilydale Overview

Occupation of Lilydale Overview

IMG_3578.JPGOccupation of Lilydale revolved around two main factions — the Godegian villagers and assorted traders who lived and moved peacefully across the land and the Cregan packs and rangers who were trying to occupy it by force.  The titular Lilydale was the village we were focusing on — the village we, the Cregan pack, were occupying.

The original Cregan pack included a wildly hedonistic Rhaegar, half-born Alpha who had killed the full-blooded Alpha in his sleep.  Alphas in this world was not only a role — the head of the pack — but often referred to a bloodline which gave rapid regeneration and incredible strength.  As a half-born, Rhaegar was still terrifying compared to the average Cregan — but he was not unkillable if enough attacked him at once.  His rapid regeneration was demonstrated by his high health points (10 which returned over time, though we weren’t told at the time what his actual health points were) and his strength (he could permanently break a weapon or limb by hitting it and saying Break).

The average Cregan had 5 health points, combat-trained villagers had 4 health points and untrained villagers had 3 health points.  And that’s before you added on armour for the Cregans which made killing them a rather difficult proposition — an important factor when you want them to maintain control.

I played two characters:

  • Evzenia, Binding Wolf, who was responsible for breaking in slaves
  • Suzanna, goat herder and thug, who arrived with her sister and whose best friend was in Part II of the story.

I’ll describe what happened to them over the weekend in the following articles.

Drifter’s March Preparations

Drifter’s March Preparations

DSC_0130Over the past month we’ve gone over the plot overview for Drifter’s March and the kind of events that went down over the course of the game.  Now we’re going to talk about the preparations I made for it in the first place.

Firstly, the rules.  The rules were something I’d been working on for over a year.  I literally read dozens of different LARP rule books before finally coming up with my own and I slowly amended mine over time as I thought up different scenarios or realised their flaws.  My rules needed to be fairly independent of the Game Master and to be based around accessing information or objects rather than new combat techniques.

I ran a playtest to stress test the bad guys and tinker with the combat / healing rules a little but unfortunately the playtest couldn’t really test most of the rules since most of the rules were based around things like lock picking and reading people.  Not exactly easy to do in a separate playtest.  We also did a workshop to help reinforce character ties and help people better understand the rules.  We had a pretty good turnout to both.

As for the rest of what I needed, I can say that I spent quite a lot of time spray painting.  I tried making up some modern foam weapons out of foam mats but they turned out to be too hard to safely swing.  I used the off-cuts to make a collection of foam surgical tools and engineering tools which were light enough to throw.  I also worked with my husband to make some fake leg traps out of foam.  I found a set of squeaky toys at K-Mart which was amazing as it meant if you stepped on the trap you’d hear a squeak!  Except they reacted poorly to the spraypaint and are still tacky to the touch to this day — three months later.  So my foot traps went without squeakiness.

I purchased 10 1GB USB sticks so I could give them to the robot NPCs and have people loot them off of them — and 7 didn’t work.  Such a shame.  10 USB sticks all in the same colour would have been amazing!  I made up for it with a few donated USB sticks and decided that the robots would have 1 per life.

I created “password-protected” folders on the USB stick that were represented by a gold padlock with a little number-based mini-game in a separate file beside it that people had to complete in order to access the folder.  I put clues to the location to some of the handbags on the USB sticks.  (Unfortunately there was no general computer people could use to read the USB sticks so they went largely unused).

I had a collection of those plastic balls people put in ball pits and I used blue tac to make a c on them inside a circle to give them a bit of detailing (referring to them as Care Packages in-game) and then spray painted them in silver and brass.  Silver meant they were electronic scrap.  Brass meant they were mechanical scrap.  Unfortunately the plastic rejected the paint and despite putting a protective top coat on them, they slowly chipped off.  Still good for one use but I had to toss it all out in the end.

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Even the players brought some of their gear along!

I purchased several airsoft masks for the robots and a Tron costume as, let’s face it, there aren’t many forms of robot costume that look good.  I also received a bunch of donated items of clothing that I could rip up for use by the Zed-Synth NPCs.   And I bought 1000 NERF darts … that ended up being hard-tipped rather than the soft-tipped ones I’d been expecting.  They’d worked for this session but we’re going to have to replace them next time.  Luckily they only cost us $90.

I also bought a bunch of little cardboard boxes, tiny medicine bottles and little metal tins that could be used to make base chems (that could be mixed to make meds) and drugs and medication.  I printed off drug and medication labels to affix to them so people had ready access to the rules behind them.  I then put jelly crystals in the base chem bottles (colour coded for ease of use so Strawberry jelly crystals for Red Chems) and tic tacs of various colour sets into the drug and medication bottles.

I also had to print everyone’s character information and their character cards containing their skill and equipment lists.  In this game everyone only had 150 chits worth of equipment they could bring into game so lists had to be put together.  I also set up some boxes of equipment for the merchants to be able to sell in-game, as well as a document full of secrets for the Secrets Merchant to be able to sell.

I made up some poison gas and radiation indicators (just buttons of specific colours with the word RAD Indicator or Poison Gas Detector written on them).  I then bought green and red tinsel that could be used as poison gas and radiation representations out in the field so people knew when to take damage or when their indicators would start chirping.

I chose a mask out of my stash for Varus Draconis in his final form.  I also bought a few masks for NPC animals and insects that people could tame or attack but I didn’t end up having enough cast members to portray enough NPCs to make them necessary.  Also no one bought the Calm Animals skill.  So those masks remained in the stash.

I had a very helpful cast member, Tamara, sort out a hot lunch.  She cooked up some spaghetti sauce at home, then reheated it and cooked the sticks during the game.  I purchased and set up a bunch of morning tea materials so people could snack throughout the day.

I bought walkie talkies for the Rules Marshalls who were players who had received an extra two hours training in the rules so that they could help give people advise during the game.  They had these black arm bands (sewn by my husband) with these cool silver badges ironed on.  That way people could see who was a rules marshall at a glance without it ruining their costume.  We used Velcro to hold the bands but they were only glued on rather than sewn on so the Velcro didn’t work.  People tied them on instead.

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The players brought laptops to decorate the journalist’s news room.

I used reflective tape to write GM on my upper arms and back of my weathered black pleather jacket.  That way people could tell who I was without me needing to wear something that completely broke immersion like a hi-vis jacket or street clothes.

I won’t go deeply into the set up on the day but I can say that I rocked up the night before with a few helpers who had car loads of gear.  We sectioned off the little foyer into an NPC area using old wooden voting booths and then set it up with all the NPC gear.  The NPC players (our cast) set up the lootables outside that very morning.  I directed the set-up of the internal rooms and nooks.  I had a bunch of cushions that were used for an out of character chill out area over by a large log outside.  We also put up a 10-person tent near the hall for the shuttle’s nose cone.

It was a 7 hour game and the set up and pack up alone would have equated to about 5 hours and the pre-game preparation to about 70 hours, all told.  Plus side is I can re-use many of the props, gear and even characters in the upcoming Triway Peak weekend LARP and the Multiverse Chronicle itself after that so we’ll certainly be getting enough bang for our buck.

Besides, I really did enjoy the preparation so it didn’t really feel like work at all.  I learned a lot about spray paint and about cobbling together neat story item out of random things I had lying about the house so that was fun.

While I did have some assistance here and there, I was silly enough to do it primarily by myself and run the thing as a solitary Game Master though Tom did stand in as NPC Wrangler as well as rules marshall which was amazing.

Would I do it all again?
Hell yeah!  In fact, I’m doing two four-hour “Drifters’ March LARPs” designed for brand new players as part of the Fringe Festival.  Stay tuned!

Drifters March Lessons Learned

Drifters March Lessons Learned

DSC_0085Drifter’s March was the biggest LARP I’ve ever run with 40 players and 11 cast members portraying NPCs.  We’ve gone over an overview, some events that occurred during the game and the kind of effort that went into preparing for it.  Now I can talk about the various lessons that I learned from the event.

  1. Never assume that even simple technology will work. I have a little laptop that’s not very good but I figured it could run a HTML file “Choose Your Own Adventure” which is what I was using for the drug & medication mini-game. People would select the two choices in chemicals mixed and then could be surprised by the result *after* they had given it to someone to try.  The laptop worked really slowly and in the most fiddly way possible so I couldn’t let the players just handle it themselves.
  2. The walkie talkies we bought cheaply from the USA don’t actually talk to Australian walkie talkies. They use different bandwidths. We only figured this out toward the end of the game when it was learned that someone pleading over the walkie talkie just wasn’t heard by anyone else who had one.  Since we’ve bought eight of them … this is kind of problematic.  On the plus side, no one can eavesdrop on what the Rules Marshalls and Game Masters are talking about and there’s a chance that there’s at least one shared channel between them all.
  3. The area was far too large to be used properly. I should have cut it in half to ensure that people bumped into each other more and were more likely to run across gear and equipment … not to mention the bad guys. I’ll do so next time.
  4. The character sheets were too complicated. There were far too many goals per person, which typically meant that they only remembered one of them. This meant that most players didn’t feel like there was enough to do until I drew their attention to parts of their histories and goal lists that they’d forgotten.  One member of a faction requested more political gameplay in future … their faction actually did have a major political goal but it was overlooked.  Next time I will streamline the character sheets so that the mini-goals all support two or three larger ones to make them all more memorable.
  5. There wasn’t a general use computer and none of the players brought their laptops with them. There was only one computer in play and it was with the journalists in their locked room. Plus there were no speakers and one of the items had a video on it.  Oops.  At least we can use it again next time.
  6. I gave a merchant a plot-sensitive item and didn’t tell him how important it was so it spent half the game in his suitcase.
  7. There needed to be far more clues regarding Varus Draconis. New rule of thumb is at least one major findable clue for every five to ten players as otherwise it’s too easy for it to disappear into a backpack and only revealed to a few people who might not mention it to others.
  8. Out of my 11 cast members, only 7 were able to play enemy combatants. Although it was never meant to be a high combat LARP, it was still too low a player to fighter ratio and there were too many bullets in play to really be able to be much of a threat. Until people got cocky and started splitting up.  When the end boss battle occurred and they started respawing in waves, players were overwhelmed quite quickly as they didn’t have melee weapons and hadn’t had any real practice against those kinds of battles before.
  9. My cast members were quite at self-managing themselves and setting up a variety of encounters. I can definitely trust in my cast to be able to put together their own ideas and put them into play.
  10. There were a few rules miscommunications and basic logistical issues. When respawning waves, I need to create a clear “respawn point” that cast need to return to before charging forward. I also need to have better pre-game workshops so people have a better understanding of what kind of play is rewarded and what is available.  More clarification on our lack of a crafting system and the limitations of the repair system.  Something physical for the scientific researchers to do so that they feel like they’re doing something when researching new scientific matters.  Things like that.
  11. The skills were too specific so some of them didn’t come up often enough for people to find them. I’m going to condense my skill system to ensure that uncommon skills are combined into one more useful skill and to enhance the core abilities to ensure that everyone remains useful. Of course, there’s always the risk in one day games that someone’s skill spread won’t happen to match what they personally encounter but minimising that is always a good idea.
  12. I’m also wondering if perhaps 51 people was too ambitious for one game master to handle! Even with all the Rules Marshalls and Tom’s NPC wrangling, things were pretty tight. I’ll try and keep it to around 40 people in future for Triway Peak.

So there we are.  I learned twelve big lessons from that event and a whole bunch more besides.

Moments at the Drifter’s March LARP

Moments at the Drifter’s March LARP

DSC_0003So last fortnight we discussed a basic overview of the Drifter’s March LARP event we ran back in August, covering off on the different factions and meta-plots included.  Of course it’s all well and good to know about the basic set up of a game, but what actually happened during it?  What did the players actually *do*?

When the game began, a few of the rangers were injured in a firefight with the robots and their leader was badly wounded.  One of their lead scouts (an NPC or Non Player Character who was doomed to die) managed to open the door to the inn and call for help before being shot in the back of the head from the robot on the other side of the river and dying with a walkie talkie held in her hand.

Those in the hall leapt into action and a bunch of them headed out to find the rangers and provide support.  They could also hear a pair of reporters pleading for help.  One had her leg caught in a trap and needed someone who could disarm it.  (Each character had five skills which could include the ability to disarm traps, pick locks, or shoot guns, among other things).  They managed to get around the robot and move into position but they didn’t have much time to evac the ranger captain before they were attacked.

A combined effort saw the robot taken down, and the others rushed off back to the inn.  The dying ranger captain was literally carried part of the way.  We used a hall for the game and repurposed one of the side nooks into a little medibay complete with two camping cots and a whole lot of fake surgical equipment, blood bags, etc.  The ranger captain was brought in here for immediate surgical attention.  The inn’s physician roleplayed the surgery, using a local anaesthetic and trying to keep the captain relaxed while he kept trying to bark orders to his subordinates.

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The local biochemist could also produce meds that could heal people.

Over the course of the day, a multitude of people ended up lying on those hospital cots or getting first aid from one of the merchants and the ranger medic.  Where there’s gunfire, there’s casualties!

The Drifter’s Inn was a reasonable sized hall with a counter in front of the kitchen (for the wait staff and the service of a hot lunch of spaghetti) and four little side nooks that were normally open on one side.  We covered the opening on one nook to make a *locked* area for the reporters to set up their computer (complete with secret information in a hackable file) and their printer (so they could make up quick newspapers as the game progressed).

Unfortunately for them, the Artificer’s Union was very suspicious on them, picked the lock and got inside.  A journalist spotted them just as a rapid hacking Artificer saw they had compiled data on the union, and before he could figure out that they were on the same side.  When the journalist commanded him to get out, he sent a surge of kinetic energy into the computer — frying it permanently.  Since one of the inn staff was casually lounging in their room when it happened, the journalists weren’t very pleased at all and it took some major diplomatic wrangling to get everyone on the same page again.

One of the independent salvagers was a wanted man in New Yuvon — one of the journalist propagandists who had fled and couldn’t recognise his brethren because they’d all had plastic surgery.  The merchant of secrets and information tried to blackmail him, and when he refused, she tried to kill him in a panic but was taken out by his allies in a gunfight outside the inn.

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They had to talk down both the PTSD struck person and convince the police bot to stand down.

Some artificers and rangers found the Policebot.  Policebots are a pre-incident robot that had enough processing power to tell the difference between wastelanders and Zed-Synths unlike the murderbots that were churned out post-incident that just don’t have that capacity.  Unfortunately it had been affected by the same “Kill All” programming so they had to struggle to capture it.

Once they had managed to capture it, one of the rangers who’d had PTSD due to an incident with a robot in his back story kept attacking it.  His fellow rangers, and the artificers present, had to keep talking the robot down to prevent it from attacking the man in turn.  Eventually the poor ranger fell to his knees in defeat, pleading with them to understand that the robot will eventually turn on them and kill them all.

The grounds themselves were littered with a variety of things to find.  There were balls of scrap that could be used to repair equipment.  There were little trapped tins with notes on the outside from one of the cultists.  There was a little campsite with Varus Draconis’ diary and some specimens of infected flesh.  There were even handbags with various gear in them from those who had succumbed to robot or Zed-Synth attacks in the past.

At the very end, a psychic sensed the approach of a horde of Zed-Synths.  As they assembled on the lawn, ready for the attack, the lead cultist who had hidden among them stepped forward, declared the superiority of Zed-Synths, and injected himself with the improved serum.  Random Zed-Synths attacked people as did Varus Draconis, and to begin with they held their own but each wave of Zed-Synths depleted their ammunition.

Varus Draconis hit the ground, but then mutated and rose again (I gave him a mask and a spear — the latter represented a bony protrusion).  He infected those who had been downed (one of whom was dragged away by her sister) and continued to attack. The infected wastelanders rose as well and begged those hiding inside the inn to let them inside.

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Varus Draconis infected several people before he died.

Varus was defeated a second time and as he underwent his final mutation, those who were infected but psychic in some way managed to throw off his control and slowly battered him down to death while others hid inside the inn and the shuttle, hearing the horrors that occurred outside.

In the very end, all of those infected by Varus himself found themselves as a sort of half-Strain … affected by the Zed-Synth infection and yet still somehow themselves.  The devastation was terrible but in the end the shuttle launched into space — ready to find its way home to Earth — and a treatment for those infected-but-not-yet-turned was found using cloning technology and the need for a replacement wastelander gland.

So as you can see there was a lot to see and do in this particular game.  This is only scratching the surface of what went down that day.  Next fortnight we’ll discuss how I prepared for such a big and prop-heavy LARP and the fortnight after that I’ll detail the lessons I learned from running my first BIG event, and certainly my first event with live combat rules (i.e. NERF guns and foam swords).