[Game Chef 2011] The Forest in the Witches Mouth

Started by Kevin Allen Jr, July 18, 2011, 04:37:02 PM

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Kevin Allen Jr

Two generations past, there was a terrible war in the kingdom. The engines of destruction rampaged across our land, flattening mountains and blighting rivers. It was a conflict without purpose or understanding, the squabbling of bureaucrats writ large and black on the map of the world.

Eventually the war ground to a stalemate and both sides retreated to their homes, broken and exhausted. Treaties were signed. Peace broke out. To prevent such terrible destruction from happening again your kingdom cast its war machines, great weapons, and terrible curses into the Mouth of the Witch, an unimaginably deep well that is said to go all the way to the land of the dead; A place, it has been told, from which nothing could be recovered...

The treaties have been broken. The war is resumed. Great armies of enemies are massing on the border. That which was lost must now be returned. You are a band of would-be heroes, but your weakness was your downfall, and so you are to be sent on the most horrible of quests. To travel into the Mouth of the Witch, and recover the artifacts of the first great war. The fates of all your countrymen have been placed in your shamed hands.

They say the rope was long enough to rig every ship in the navy. The winch that held it was bigger than a church. You and your grim compatriots were lowered down slowly, what felt like hours, cold and in the dark. When your foot first touched down it was on ashy soil choked with leaves. There were voices in the air, and not those of your fellow travelers (those folk —like you— maintained a bleak silence). These were the voices of the long lost, whispering secrets and promises and the blackest hatred. Around you grey trees grew up, their roots a tangled net of gnarled bones. Neither path nor road had been cut through the briar-festooned underbrush. And all about the was no sign apparent of the kingdom's banished arsenal. The dead dwell in a queer and midnight forest, and for now, you do as well.

Should you return you will be pardoned, forgiven, and born anew as a great hero, should you fail you will be another forgotten sinner, unworthy of histories attention.

Kevin Allen Jr

• The players are a group of explorers in the land of the dead. They are not heroes but they could have been if they had made other choices in life. These are all deeply flawed people who are being exiled by their kingdom, but still retain a sense of noble dedication and patriotism. It is this "glimmer of hope" by which they were granted –an albeit slim– chance at redemption. 

• The forest of the dead is populated by ghosts. They have been around for a while and know all sorts of secrets. They know things about history, the players dark secrets, and other ghosts. They can guide the players through the forest, and show them things they would not have been able to find on their own. Ghosts do not, however, have a physical presence, they must possess the living in order to interact with the world.

• When a ghost possesses a players, it is purely a voluntary exchange. Ghosts get a little slice of a player's mortality in the deal (or a hand to act in the world with) but in turn they also dole out useful secrets and information to the player.

• When players become possessed by ghosts they take on that ghost's personality and manners. Thereby there are no NPC's in this game, only players temporarily taking on other roles.

• Time and space work strangely in the forest of the dead. Things that were hidden under a tree might not be there hours later, and things long forgotten might turn up in well traveled places. It is hard to know how long the players have spent in the forest of the dead. Perhaps only hours have elapsed, or maybe the war is already over and long ago lost.

• It is always night in the forest of the dead. Torch light is dim and flickering, and a sense of dread and somber sorrow pervades.

Kevin Allen Jr

I played in a wrote for a boffer LARP for nearly a decade. It was a great experience, but it left me wanting more. The medium of boffer larping has a surprising degree of stagnation. Nearly every game uses a minor permutation of the same rules, rules that were written not to elicit player enjoyment but to prevent "cheating" and "promote balance." This has lead to a great number of very dull, very sophomoric games. It's a field more littered with droll unplayable fantasy heartbreakers than even the tabletop RPG scene.

I seek to make a live action game that doesn't simply follow the model of the scream and smash boffer larp. Take the lessons learned from interactive theatre, the nordic scene, parlor larps/murder mysteries and apply them to the fantasy boffer larp milieu. I wish to exploit the logistical limitations inherent in producing a fantasy boffer larp with a small troupe as strengths of the setting and system.

• For small groups, 8-15ish
• You play at night in the woods, the dangers and difficulties associated with this type of play will be taken into account and organically mitigated by the rules and setting, without diminishing the deep rooted fear inherent in all humans of being alone in the dark wilderness.
• No GMs, plot marshals, overseers, or refs. Players are each responsible for adding to the group's engagement in the story.
• Everyone has a scaleable amount of lonely fun to participate in (this can be a very small volume of work or a fair amount depending on personal interest).
• Boffer combat that is both cinematic and and engaging, while not becoming dangerous or clumsy.

Jason Petrasko

I don't know about anyone else, but man the imagery here is rocking. I'm really excited reading the setup, and its evoke enough in me to really feel the plight of these poor buggers who are essentially screwed, but given a small flickering candlelight of hope in the distance to die in front of. Good job!

Jason Morningstar

I dunno man, you had me at the title.

Super curious to see how you mitigate the dangerous and clumsy in favor of the cinematic (engaging is sort of a given).

If all 15 participants are players, where do the ghosts come from? How are they instantiated or whatever?

This framework is tailor-made for Camp Nerdly. Bring Frank Manna and let us kill death itself.