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Author Topic: [Everway Larp] at Dreamation  (Read 8335 times)
Emily Care
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« on: January 26, 2006, 02:21:12 PM »

Hey there,

Kat Miller and her friend Michelle ran an Everway Larp at Dreamation this past weekend.† It was a 4 hour session that kept us all guessing and going right up until the end.† We had devious magical device inspired role-swapping, court intrigue, love potions and the near threat of blowing Everway to kingdom come (our choice) going on, as well as a neat stream-lined combat system that kept the fun rolling. For a first--or any--effort, they kicked ass.

Time is Running Out
As an introduction to the setting of Everway, it's a medievaloid kingdom at the nexus of many transdimensional gateways.† Travelers called Sphere Walkers cross from Everway to worlds Beyond, trading in precious items and making mischief or doing good as they see fit.† In the scenario we played, the King of Everway had declared that all gates be closed. The game took place in the final three hours before the last gate was closed and the beloved leader of the Sphere Walkers in Everway was exiled to the worlds beyond.

My character was the Lady Jade, cousin to the King, secretly in love with the Sphere Walker Piper.

As if it needs saying, I did not want the gates to be closed.

Cues to Action
Prepatory to the game, each of the players (were there really only 5 of us?) was given a profile sheet on their character. The were all pre-gen, fitted into the unfurling plot like pieces in a puzzle. Or rather, cogs and gears fitted to the piston of the story--giving each other dramatic pushes to see if the nefarious doings would get uncovered.

The character sheets were simple: A description of our character, its goals, secrets, what it knows about a few other characters and if it owned anything, what the virtues were of its belongings.† What was key were those goals and secrets.† From them, I figured out several things I could take action on right away.† Though I'd not played a larp before, I had heard that the death of them comes from players waiting around for the plot to happen to them.† Sounds boring to me, so I wanted to roll.† The knowledge that my character deeply doubted the recent change in mind her cousin had had, and the goal to rescue Piper gave me the motivation to do what I could to act on keeping the gates from being closed.†

Though he was the King...

Bouncing Off Each Other
So in we all came, armed with various information. Two merchants made deals in the Tavern where the final gate lay.† A lady Sphere Walker confessed to me that she was the King's secret lover and had reason to doubt that he was who he said he was.† I sought a healing potion to see if I could heal the King and got dosed with love potion action that sent me confessing my new found love to the King's body guard, whom I'd appealed to for help with my plans.† A truth-telling object--a ball that lit when the bearer spoke the truth--was used to threaten to unveil the "King" and when the King disappeared I used it to question a confused Sphere Walker who had come to kill the King's brother, while Stone (the bodyguard) declared me Queen in the King's absence (Regent only, thank you very much!)†

Everyone had some agenda(s) they were working for.† To find lost love, to control the kingdom, to kill a fugitive.† The two GM's took on various roles, poking and prodding us with everything from rebellion in the streets to doubts about the "King"'s claims.† Chaos was strewn by role switching brought about by the activation of various small glass cubes that were used to magically imprison people as well as the gate being prematurely closed then opened again, with switches happening about who had gone and who had returned through the now malfunctioning gate.

We had two or three instances of combat, which were easily and fairly quickly resolved. It was a simple karma system designed by Michael Miller.† The primary attacker and defender used one of their characters ratings & could be supported by others. Narration went to the attacker if they succeeded by 2 or more. All these conflicts came at tense moments, and though it did take a bit of time to figure out exactly what happened, it sounds like it was much quicker than many "time in a bubble" conflict mechanics that get used.

Ending the Game
In the end, it turned out that Piper had been imprisoned in one of the glass cubes by the King's brother Horizon Bound.† This Sphere Walker was being pursued by others and sought to protect himself by cutting off Everway from other dimensions.† The Sphere Walker seeking him brough another type of glass cube that if activated while in contact with the gate would have blown us all sky-high (again, they asked us at the start if we were up for those stakes, and we were game).† We came *this* close to all going. Whew!

The King was returned and I got to relinquish the crown to him again.† Turned out that Stone had slipped me the mickey, so Jeff (the other Son of Kryos) and I had a couple good moments of realization and betrayal to play out (in a very low key fashion that was most satisfying).

All in all, I had a blast. It seemed like everyone else was very engaged throughout and it seemed like we went through the whole scenario in good time, but not too fast.

Some reflections I have on the success of it are that Kat has been running Everway tabletop forever, and has a keen sense of what makes for exciting, directed play, which really showed. Though my experience is limited, my discussion with others tells me that this session was an excellent example of applying rpg design principles (and common sense) to the larp form.† We all had really clear motivations and directions to head in with our characters.† The other characters were critical to our ability to act (seems like everyone had to get something from the merchants, I relied on Stone, and the King was questioned and harrangued by everyone).† The GM's took part when needed, but it seemed to tick along right well with player action motivating it.†

I'd love to hear what Kat's thoughts on it are, as well as anyone else who took part (if they're about here?).† Or from others more experienced with larps who can give perspective on the† techniques they used.

Not so much description of larping that goes on in these forums, but it's interesting to look at nonetheless.

best,
Emily


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Black & Green Games
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« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2006, 06:26:31 PM »

Cool! I remember Kat from Everway-L days, I think. Would you satisfy the curiousity of an old Everwegian and elaborate on the combat system the organizers came up with? Also, did anyone have Magic?

Best,


Jim
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Adam Cerling
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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2006, 07:57:03 PM »

Thanks for the writeup, Emily. I'm glad your first larp experience was good. It's my theory that larp and tabletop gaming are really the same thing, just with different techniques.

One key difference in technique is the necessity in larp to "split" the shared imaginings. When material is being introduced or altered, not all the players will be around to acknowledge it. Often the GM-players are among those in the dark! Did you see any of that in this larp, considering it was so small? Did players ever split into groups to do things without other players knowing about it?
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Adam Cerling
In development: Ends and Means -- Live Role-Playing Focused on What Matters Most.
Kat Miller
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« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2006, 08:02:54 PM »

Wow!

The Everway Larp.

This was my first endeavor towards running a Larp although I have been playing in Larps for a couple of years now.† Iíve been in enough LARPs that sucked to feel confident about putting one together.† Iíve been in one I nearly walked out of half way through so no matter how bad I would be I couldnít possibly out-suck that one.†

I really appreciate everyone who came up after word and told me it was really good, because when the game was over, even with five grinning faces staring back at me I wasnít sure.

The Conflict Cards
The Conflict Mechanics are one of the most difficult aspects of any Larp.† †Most conflict systems have left me cold.† Many involve dice and an interruption of play for those who are not involved in the conflict (which sucks by the way).†

It should surprise no one that the Mechanic suggested by Michael S. Miller is a card mechanic.† We ripped it from ďKill Dr. Lucky.Ē A boardgame by James Earnest.† Michael said we should just hand out failure cards.† It was so simple.

Combining that idea with Everway gave me a basis for Attack and defense cards. Let the Earth Score be the defense, let the Fire score be the Attack.† Simple.† †I had hoped simple enough that the players could adjudicate a conflict without a GM. That didnít happen.† But the good news is that each conflict was short, and clear. And anyone not involved in the conflict were free to continue their own play. (although in a group of 6† that meant they were audience)

Favorite Moments:

I got a real Kick out of informing Emily she was in love.

I canít remember who played Strand, but the guy in the black coat was awesome!† Heíd open his mouth and I had no idea where what he was saying was coming from.† †After he put on the amulet of magical Binding and then publicly declared that Josh had done something and he couldnít use the gate (not realizing that he COULDNíT use the gate).† I looked at Michele and I was like-ďDid he just say what I think he said?† Cause we could both see he had the amulet on.† The Irony was a beautiful thing especially when Stone gave him a shove (in retrospect that should have been a card conflict)- and he couldnít go through the gate.† I donít know who was more surprised Josh or Strand.

THE POTIONS

Thursday night before the con Michele informs me we needed a money system in the game.† LARP money is no fun.† Itís just paper.† It doesnít have any value.† You have $20, vs you have $2000000 means the same thing.† You have nothing.† †That when we added the potions.† Potions became the medium of trade.† Real Glass bottles you can hold.† They have value now.† And if they have special abilities they have even more value.† Props traded hand with an ease I had not witnessed in other larps.† That made me happy.

Potions are only fun if you can get someone to drink one though. Thus the toasts to the King rule where if anyone toasts to the king you have to drink whatís in front of you.† I think this also was a success.


Thanks for the write up, and thanks for playing.† †

† †
 
Cool! I remember Kat from Everway-L days, I think. Would you satisfy the curiousity of an old Everwegian and elaborate on the combat system the organizers came up with? Also, did anyone have Magic?
Jim

Hi Jim!

No one in this scenerio had magic, but maybe in the next one.† I wanted to make sure the Physical conflict could be dealt with smothly before I added Player Magic into the mix

-kat
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kat Miller
Andrew Morris
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« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2006, 08:29:22 PM »

Emily, was this your first time playing Everway and your first time LARPing?

Kat, how significantly different was the experience of play (as you observed it) from a table-top Everway session?
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Kat Miller
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« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2006, 05:49:44 AM »

Kat, how significantly different was the experience of play (as you observed it) from a table-top Everway session?

First I could have easily run this as a Table top.†
The players would then all make characters and all of the LARP characters would be NPCs.† The Players would have the same Agenda- Prevent the gates from shutting.† and I'd ask each one during character creation to keep two things in mind.† 1. one of the already shut gates is vitally important to you-why?† 2. You know Piper personally, he has helped you in the past-what did he do?† †Thus the little community of characters created at the table have the gates and piper built into the characters.

At a table top the group can reject my premis if someones backstory sounds cooler- "we don't care about Everway, lets go here."† this actually happened at a Con game I ran a few years ago.

There's less freedom in an Everway Larp than in an Everway Game because I'm giving you a character sheet that has you agendas and secrets. You trade in creative freedom for having a kicker that is important to the developing story.† Jade's Kicker: "You're a princess, Your cousin the King is going to exile the man you secretly love in three hours† while committing an act that will effectively cripple your merchant based kingdom-"

There is a little less actual power.† †The King called for the guards.† I have no guards its just me and Michele.† I play one guard reporting.† The guards are busy. there is a riot in the streets.† (I hadn't planned on the riot.† There was always the potential.† But I probably wouldn't have had the riot if the king hadn't card for guards)

The game moved much like a table top.† only there was no assumed Group.† They formed grouplets.† The King had his body guard, and Jade and the Kings lover found each other quickly (small group)† The Merchant and the false merchant began to trade.
The grouplets will merge or break apart becoming different grouplets at times. Stone and the Merchant, Jade and the King, Lover and the False Merchant.† That was cool to watch.† Michele and I played Tavern hostesses.† It gave us in character reasons to approach someone looking stuck.†

The players were hindered by setting.† we couldn't go to another sphere or the palace.† I could make temporary settings in corners if I needed them.† I had a back alley where much conspiracy took place.† Biggest difference is that almost every character was invested in another other character sometimes two of them.† Stone has his Duty to the King, and he's secretly in love with the Jade.†

-kat


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kat Miller
Emily Care
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« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2006, 07:13:12 AM »

Andrew: this was both my first time with Everway and with larping.  Looks like I will have to look into doing both more. How different was this from others since it was an Everway larp?

Adam: There was much "splitting" of the imaginings.  As Kat wrote, the players often made small groups to connive & carry things out.  Also, various pieces of information were introduced by the players: about Everway, about their experiences in other worlds, about the back story. Some were true tales, some wer lies, some were color brought in from other Everway sessions the players had taken part in.  I found myself interrogating Josh about a dangerous Sphere Walker he'd never heard of, while he himself was an extremely dangerous Spherewalker! It was great.

Little things surprised me about it. Like how actions were taken based on overhearing me talk to other players.  In a table top game I'd have probably have firewalled it out--but in live action you're just going on what knowledge you gain in person, so it was kosher & even excellent to do so.  Playing off what others said was interesting too. Were other players lying in character? How could I tell? We are all lying, essentially, so what cues would we give to one another about the information we were providing. At a certain point, I had no idea which set of theories about the king were true--had he been replaced or was it truly he? So, I just kept acting on both theories, being cautious not to make him think I was suspicious.  Friends have mentioned that that is a good response: in that situation, it is easy to feel stuck & just turtle up, taking no action. Luckily, that didn't happen.

The biggest surprise though, for me, was how deeply I enjoyed being in actor stance.  I had no idea how much I missed it.  It's so satisfying to embody a role. I felt a bit self-conscious since I'm not familiar with the norms of larping, but it seemed to be fine.

best,
Emily
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Andrew Morris
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« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2006, 07:58:21 AM »

Quote from: Emily Care
We had two or three instances of combat, which were easily and fairly quickly resolved. [...] All these conflicts came at tense moments, and though it did take a bit of time to figure out exactly what happened, it sounds like it was much quicker than many "time in a bubble" conflict mechanics that get used.

Ahh, yeah. I kid you not, taking two hours to resolve six seconds of in-game action is not uncommon. So, however long your combat resolution took, I'm fairly confident it was better than in most LARPs.
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Emily Care
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« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2006, 09:20:28 AM »

Ahh, yeah. I kid you not, taking two hours to resolve six seconds of in-game action is not uncommon.

Arrgh.  So grateful not to have had to deal with that.

--e
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mneme
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« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2006, 09:26:15 AM »

Firs, a bit of resume, since everyone else has been doing it:  I've played a lot of Everway (and run a fair amount), and played a lot of LARPs (and run 6 or 8).  I also played in the Everway adventure that this game was designed as a sequel to.

First -- while it was quite good, the larp wasn't actually atypical from the style of LARP I usually favor (theatre style, pre-written, not campaign).  Those larps tend to favor very simple mechanics (the biggest difference here was the narration rights (didn't seem to have that much significance as the game played out, but still cool), and the use of a mechanic that heavily penalized you for losing fights (I tend to write my combat mechanics to penalize characters that start too many fights, to prevent the high-combat charcters from going on a rampage).  But in the LARPs I play (at Intercon and the like) and run, simple to ultra-simple systems are used (quick fortune, quick karma, secret karma, etc), and characters are written to have reason to interact with most of the game.

The fact that I'd played in the previous game meant that instead of making things up or interrogating the GMs when I got into a situation where it seemed likely that my character would know more than was written on her sheet, I could sometimes just drop in material from my out-of-game knowledge.  Which was useful, if a bit odd.

The biggest difference between LARPs and tabletop is, yes, the way you'll have multiple threads going on at once.  This will happen in tabletop games as well -- some games, like PTA, discourage it or disallow it, but in other games, I'll often draw off players uninvolved in the current primary scene into a secondary scene of some sort.

Emily did just fine -- in fact, I don't think anyone had issues with the forms of LARPing (I thought that Stone's player chose an interpretation of his character that I would have found less fun than others, and that the merchant/false merchant characters were less involved, in the early game, with the rest of the game than the Jade/Stone/Truefriend (my character, the King's lover)/Horizon (the false king) quad, but that didn't majorly harm my enjoyment of the game).

I was very much going for story now in my play -- I started out making contact with Jade, then arranged a meeting with "The King" (Horizon) where I both guessed his secret and revealed too much, then talked to the remaining three characters (because this is a key strategy, for a variety of reasons, to playing LARPs -- talk to everyone!  If you don't have a reason to talk to them, make one up!).  In all of this, I carefully make sure the two Items I held (a green cube(unbeknownst to me, holding King Emerald) and my truth globe) were Seen.  Somewhere after I made my rounds, I got turned (briefly) into King Emerald, and confronted Horizon (only to have the effect fade improprunely).   After that, things got messy for a while, as Horizon attempted to exercise authority the GMs weren't about to let him have, as well as trying to destroy the world...er, I mean, close the gate.  I did end up using the time-honored tactic of "when frustrated, tell the GMs" which helped a fair bit (Thanks Kat!). Somewhere in there, I found Piper's cube and got the Merchant and Jade to help me bring him back.   And somwhere after that, things were more or less resolved, as Horizon got sucked up by the true gate and King Emerald was returned.  Much fun, and a happy ending was nice.

Favorite moments:

Confronting Horizon as Emerald (him: "What do you...Oh.")

"Accidentally" slipping and publically talking about the king as my lover (and Horizon's reaction to same -- he hadn't caught on until then).

Freeing Piper (hell, it was worth a shot...)

And Emily -- you should make it to Intercon -- you'd have a blast!
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Lisa Padol
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« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2006, 09:52:05 AM »

I've played a lot of Everway (and run a fair amount), and played a lot of LARPs (and run 6 or 8).  I also played in the Everway adventure that this game was designed as a sequel to.

You have also run LARPs, both those written by others and those you co-authored.

Quote
The fact that I'd played in the previous game meant that instead of making things up or interrogating the GMs when I got into a situation where it seemed likely that my character would know more than was written on her sheet, I could sometimes just drop in material from my out-of-game knowledge.  Which was useful, if a bit odd.

You checked with Kat about that before doing it, correct?

Quote
The biggest difference between LARPs and tabletop is, yes, the way you'll have multiple threads going on at once.  This will happen in tabletop games as well -- some games, like PTA, discourage it or disallow it, but in other games, I'll often draw off players uninvolved in the current primary scene into a secondary scene of some sort.

Side point: PTA encourages weaving. It just needs to be handled delicately.

Quote
I was very much going for story now in my play -- I started out making contact with Jade, then arranged a meeting with "The King" (Horizon) where I both guessed his secret and revealed too much, then talked to the remaining three characters (because this is a key strategy, for a variety of reasons, to playing LARPs -- talk to everyone!  If you don't have a reason to talk to them, make one up!).  In all of this, I carefully make sure the two Items I held (a green cube(unbeknownst to me, holding King Emerald) and my truth globe) were Seen.

Ah yes, the principles of making the LARP experience better for you and everyone else, as you taught me. Talk to everyone. Get information out there. The game will grind to a halt if people sit on their pieces of plot. Find a reason to have the secrets your PC would prefer to keep hidden come out, dramatically as all get up. Given a choice between a quiet, dull success and going down in flames -- Down in Flames!

Most of which boils down the the big principle you taught me: Pay attention. Doing this will help you find in character reasons to do things you want to do as a player.

Quote
And Emily -- you should make it to Intercon -- you'd have a blast!

Yes. Lots of different larps.

-Lisa
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mneme
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« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2006, 10:44:09 AM »

and played a lot of LARPs (and run 6 or 8).

You have also run LARPs, both those written by others and those you co-authored.
Yup. Said so.

Quote
The fact that I'd played in the previous game meant that instead of making things up or interrogating the GMs when I got into a situation where it seemed likely that my character would know more than was written on her sheet, I could sometimes just drop in material from my out-of-game knowledge.  Which was useful, if a bit odd.

You checked with Kat about that before doing it, correct?
Nope.

I stopped for a moment (at least, in my head), and thought "Ok, so what would I do if in this situation if I were asked this question and didn't know anything about the background, given my character sheet?  Well, if I were good, I'd make shit up.  Fine -- since I have ready-made info my character should have...I'll "make that up" instead."

Truefriend knew that the bad spherewalker (Blood) was now innocent.  Therefore she knew his name, something of his reputation, and some in the info about the adventure in which he became innocent, or she wouldn't think she knew that.

Quote
The biggest difference between LARPs and tabletop is, yes, the way you'll have multiple threads going on at once.  This will happen in tabletop games as well -- some games, like PTA, discourage it or disallow it, but in other games, I'll often draw off players uninvolved in the current primary scene into a secondary scene of some sort.

Side point: PTA encourages weaving. It just needs to be handled delicately.

Not really -- it subtly discourages weaving, since the fanmail mechanic encourages players to remain involved in others scenes and wait for them to be free before starting your own scene.  You could interweave your scene with someone else's scene, but the formal scene request mechanic explicitly discourages this -- a scene begins after the previous one ends.  You can have a scene that's taking place in multiple locations at once, but again, the two bits will usually take turns -- one stage, rather than splitting off into multiple simultaneous stages, as is default for a LARP and not that uncommon for some styles of tabletop.

Ah yes, the principles of making the LARP experience better for you and everyone else, as you taught me. Talk to everyone. Get information out there. The game will grind to a halt if people sit on their pieces of plot. Find a reason to have the secrets your PC would prefer to keep hidden come out, dramatically as all get up. Given a choice between a quiet, dull success and going down in flames -- Down in Flames!

Most of which boils down the the big principle you taught me: Pay attention. Doing this will help you find in character reasons to do things you want to do as a player.

Yup!  More or less, anyways.  Play the game, not just your character.

(on Intercon) Yes. Lots of different larps.
Yup!  And most of them are good!  Lots of stylistic variations, but the general culture tends to cool LARPs.
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Kat Miller
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« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2006, 01:52:00 PM »

Playing off what others said was interesting too. Were other players lying in character? How could I tell? We are all lying, essentially, so what cues would we give to one another about the information we were providing. At a certain point, I had no idea which set of theories about the king were true--had he been replaced or was it truly he? So, I just kept acting on both theories, being cautious not to make him think I was suspicious.†

There is an etiquette in LARPing involving lies.  I've been told that your supposed to answer truthfully anything asked you directly but you can misdirect and imply what ever you want. But there are really no rules about lying.   

Your decision to keep working both theories was the wisest move. 

-kat
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kat Miller
mneme
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« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2006, 12:15:31 PM »

If there are any such rules, or even guidelines, nobody's ever told me that, in 14 years of regularl LARPing.

Murder Mystery games (of the "you have a thin veneer of character, but it's really a parlor game where all players are trying to solve the mystery" variety) do have such a rule, but those aren't the same thing. 

That said, there are a smallish number of LARPers who came from the murder mystery comunity, who may have adopted such a rule for their games -- but it's by no means a norm.
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Graham W
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« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2006, 04:48:48 PM »

Hi Emily,

I'm glad it went well. It sounds like Kat did a great job. 5 people is a very small number for a LARP, and I think that's great: small number lead to really focussed play, and lots of GM time, and nobody standing about doing nothing.

The character sheet is interesting:

Quote
]A description of our character, its goals, secrets, what it knows about a few other characters and if it owned anything, what the virtues were of its belongings.  What was key were those goals and secrets.

That's a classic LARP character sheet, really: especially the bits about goals and relationships. Giving characters goals can really drive a LARP: since the GM often isn't around to push the story, the goals give the players ways to interact with each other. There's a real skill in meshing the goals so they interact with each other, so the players have to work with or against each other to get what they want. Relationships are a great driving force too: they let you know who to work with and who to work against.

How did the secrets thing work out? I find secrets can be really difficult in LARPs: they either come out too early or they don't come out at all.

The question about stance is interesting too: actor stance is very common in LARPs, but there's no reason you couldn't use a bit of author stance (bringing the player's priorities into play) or even director stance. Director stance would be great in LARPs: it would save the GM trying to define the whole damn world. (Stop me if I've made mistakes there: I'm still not entirely clear on stances).

I'm looking forward to a live-action version of Breaking the Ice, anyway.

Graham
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