Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mystic Crossroads on podcast Hobby Hard

This is probably the most important post I will get to make on our experience running a larp game.

Sam Porter and Dylan Heimbrock, along with their friend Adrien, from podcast Hobby Hard came to our game to experience larp for the first time, and then discussed it in depth. They are sometimes painfully honest, and it was hard for me to listen to, but sometimes that's what you need.

Right off the bat, I apparently really offended them with the term "noob". In the world I live in, the word "noob" is common and I've come to think of it as neutral. But I see now it was rude and I need to cut that out.

Let me say, without trying to dodge blame for anything, these guys were way way outside my cultural world. Aside from the "noob" thing, they didn't understand vernacular that I've come to expect to be common language to any gamer. D&D was an unknown to these guys. Renfaire was outside their experience. They new video games, but I don't really know enough to make that a common basis to work from. The terms "PC" and "NPC" were foreign. Other common words I used in way of explaining the game caused me to stop and ask our guests if they understood. Then it was backtracking to cover common ideas. That was really strange. Goose step? Mage? 

Moving on. I decided, since I knew these folks were here for a one-time experience, I would give them an easy role as wandering monsters, getting them into combat and not bore them with the character building process. Not letting them in on character creation robbed them of that experience and as they explain, I could have created a much more fulfilling game for them. 

Instead, I assigned them monster NPC roles and made notecards with what I hoped the'd need to know to jump into killing people. Apparently I wrote too damn much for some, and didn't give nearly enough hands on explanation of how fighting works. This was my second big mistake, and I think I just felt stretched across too many jobs. I didn't feel like I had time to do this, and support my normal players. Now I don't even know if I just stressed myself out.

Secondly as NPCs they just stayed in one area and waited for PCs, which was really boring. PCs avoided them, or failed to respond to their powers. I really needed to be there and referee because no one knew what I assumed what at least the experienced players knew. 

Just writing this, I'm just kicking myself all over again.

When I went over to check on the interaction, too late to fix much, I suggested they move back toward "town" to kill anyone, but it just didn't happen. On the up side, they seemed to have a good time when they did get to fight with swords, "ditching" or practice fighting, or amuse themselves at our expense. Just everyone, I wish I'd focused completely on these guy's experience and let the regular players be damned.

In the end I did really enjoy having these guys out, and I hope they give us another chance at some time. I know this was far out of their comfort zone, and I'm glad they gave us their afternoon, with minds open enough to try out something bizarre. They are always welcome.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Reconsiderations on Character Death

Through our most recent games, and through recent player feedback, it has appeared that a very important game mechanic has been missing from Mystic Crossroads. Something that undermines many, if not most plot and character interaction. That thing is fear of death and its consequences.
This wasn't exactly an oversight by us as writers. My partner and I come from a game background in Amtgard and spin off games. These games, and others, are designed very well as mass combat systems. Dying part of the game and happens constantly. And I mean every ten minutes or so if you're a typical player. Dying is easy, and really no big deal. Don't get me wrong. The combat systems we found in these games worked worlds better than the LARP games we ran across. They were just… murderous deadly.
Though we tried to make our game less so, we knew death would be a regular part of the game. What we didn't want to do is make death so costly that players were afraid to fight. Combat is a fun part of the game we were making, and dying is just a part of it. So we wrote Mystic Crossroads expecting battlefield deaths as normal and gave everyone four lives to spend in every game.
What we didn't know is what were giving up by making this choice. Outside of a battlefield death is not common, but when death happens it is done with purpose to plot and should effect those killed, and those who commit the killing. As it is the act means nothing, the dead character comes back in ten minutes. There is no fear, no shock, no consequences at all. No punishment for killers, and no way to punish, because nothing matters. This can't continue and have a worthy game.
So we must create a more deadly game than we have been playing. However, I'm not interested in the increasing threat of total character death that other games have. It favors the skilled and punishes the unskilled. Instead I'm considering the following. There are two kinds of deaths that characters can experience; significant and insignificant death. Insignificant deaths happen on the battlefield or in skirmishes and do not have impact on plot. They will continue to be as described in Mystic Crossroads Rulebook.
Significant deaths, however, are ones deemed to be plot significant by the Game Designers or referee. Characters sacrificed in some ritual, killed in a duel, or given a prison sentence by a noble for criminal acts take a significant death. They may return to play only at the next event, or in ten minutes at the cost of four character points. Players should consider bringing a change of costume to play another character if they take a significant death, so as not to lose their character points. This game rule sounds harsh, at least to me, but it allows players to manage character deaths without taking permanent penalty unless they chose to burn character points and possibly be on the run from their enemy for the rest of the game.
Since this is a major change to rules I wanted to put it up for discussion before making it part of the game. Please take this opportunity to tell us what you think about death and fear and losing character points vs. possibly losing a character.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm pretty sure I don't know what I'm doing

This is our first blog entry! Woot! This is more of a test, really, to see how everything works in our fabulous new web site! I'm pretty excited to finally get us online as it was something we should have done a year ago at least. Can't do everything with just us two between job and family, and of course larping.

So, now what? One of the reasons we had for this blog and web site was to post videos! I love videos. But I've been searching through for larp vids, and seem to be disappointed with what I find. There are LOTS, but they're generally embarrassing. No wonder the mundies think so badly of this hobby.

I guess we have our work cut out for us.