[LARP Actual Play] Crime pays, a weekend citywide LARP

edited September 2006 in Actual Play
I'm not very experienced in writing an analytical actual play report, but I'll give it a shot and try to illustrate how a 360-degree LARP is run, what the game play is like, how I experienced this particular LARP as a player and what I think worked and what did not from my account and in general (based on other players comments and my observations). This is going to be a long one, though I'll try to concentrate on the actual experience and not the why's and how's. Please ask questions and clarifications if you want to know about something specific.

Crime pays was a weekend LARP played in early June, lasting from early friday evening to late saturday evening (around 30 hours in all). It was a city-LARP which meant that the playing area was not restricted; the game had designated playing areas around Helsinki metropolitan area, both downtown and in the suburbs. Most of the players knew only two or three of these locations - I think it had around 10 of them in all. Transportation was provided either through a public transportation (which is in pretty good shape in Helsinki), by car (players with cars paid half of the game fee), by walking or by taxi (not a very popular choice). Cell phones were used for long-distance communications.

The setting and theme centered around criminal activity, from street gangs to the upper echelons. There were around 60 players and 10 organisers controlling the game and playing NPC's. There were two known major factions in the game, which had a "professional" criminal gang and a street gang, several smaller factions (arms dealers, pimps and hookers, underground medical facility, an illegal bar considered to be neutral ground, and so on) and some independent characters.

The game material had relatively short notes on the setting: it's Helsinki as you know it, except more like what the tv-series about cops and criminals emphasize. More criminal activity, hard-hitting cops, corrupted officials. There was a brief introduction to the underworld of Helsinki, short history of gangs, movers and shakers, and a short bio on the characters known to all everyone. The game mechanics were simple: players decide what happen. If someone hits you, it hurts. If someone stabs you, it hurts a lot and you have to seek medical attention. If someone shoots you, you either end up wounded badly or die, but you have to seek medical attention.

The actual rules and advice dealt with how to behave in a city LARP. What to do and what not to do, how not to alarm and disturb people who are not part of the game, how to recognise the designated playing areas where you can pull out that replica pistol and feel good about it - and how not to, never ever, do that anywhere else. How not to break any real laws. A common sense 101, but a very necessary one.

I received a short description of my character about a month before the game and the full character background about two weeks before the game. I was to be Albert Kujala, a honest businessman hit with bad times and having fell in with bad crowd - at least, that's what my character told himself to keep his chin up. In reality, he was a white collar criminal with delusions of normal life, running a money laundry business for one of the gangs. I considered myself to be a bit of an outsider since I really didn't want to be assosicated with the ruffle. I knew most of the "professional" leaders of the gang from a long time ago and had worked with them. I had a secret of having been a lover to a female luxury car thief over ten years ago, having been found out by her husband, and arranged his assasination before he could do me in. Albert and Suvi - the woman of my life - had gone separate ways sometime after that because we didn't want the ex-man's buddies to find out about our relationship, put 1+1 together, and take revenge on both of us. Several lean years later, a female criminal boss put a gang together and brough Albert, Suvi and several of the old gangmembers back together. Me and Suvi have kept quiet about our relationship out of fear and we haven't really talked about the issue.

The big picture was that the leader of the other major gang wanted to form an unified mob to Helsinki and had assigned a meeting of criminal bosses. Personally, I knew that my boss was not about to be second in command and was known for her ambitions and not really being a negotiator. I had a clear goal; I wanted to cash myself out of the local scene and head to safety before the shit would hit the fan. To this end, I had opened negotiations with the financier of the other gang about borrowing money (200.000 euroes) against my stocks in the local restaurant business. In reality, I had sold a large portion of my ownings several years earlier and the stocks weren't worth anything near the amount I wanted to borrow. I also wanted to take Suvi with me, so I would have to have a long discussion about our relationship and convince her to leave with me. I also had a niece in the city, towards whom I displayed my caring attitude as uncle by sending an occasional check. I wanted her to have a good life.

The background of my character was about three pages long.

(To be continued later with how I prepared for the game.)

Comments

  • We exchanged several emails with the players who belong to my faction (the criminal gang, though not the street gang connected to us) about how things are run in our organisation, what responsibilities the characters have and such. I also exchanged several emails with the player of my niece in which we detailed our past relationship; that we didn't really meet that often and did not know details about what the other does for living.

    We also had a player meeting for the faction, in which we discussed about the LARP in general, the gang and the characters. There was also a gamemaster present to answer questions and provide clarifications, and to talk about nuts and bolts of the event, like where we were supposed to meet and at what time. I was a bit disappointed with the meeting; while each player got to introduce his/her character, there was very little collaboration. We told about ourselves, expanding the relationships in character background, but didn't really create anything new together about what had happened between us, what kind of relationships we had and so on.

    Most of the players in my faction were previously unknown to me, and not all of them were present. I'm used to playing with people I already know and whom playing style matches mine. I was a bit worried about this; I would have liked to have a long discussion about the character's past to add depth to them and to avoid the feeling that I haven't really met these people (characters) before even if I have known them for years.

    I arranged a separate meeting with the player of my ex-lover for the next evening because we both agreed that we should talk about our characters and us as players. Also, we couldn't really do that in the event with other players, since the relationship was secret.

    We met, went through the character histories and expanded the shared past. While doing that it occured to us that the experience would be a lot better if we'd just escalate things more: we decided that our characters had fallen back into a secret relationship, met irregulary for passionate nights, and struggled to keep this secret from the rest of the gang. We also decided to play this out in the way that would give out a lot of hints about the relationship to other characters. We felt that this would engange other players (especially those might want to take revenge) and give them tools force us into a conflict. Also, it would make things more exciting for us, changing the need to discuss about our past relationship to actual situtation, already ripe to happen. We okayed this change with the game master.

    Also, we discussed about how we want to play things through, especially on physical level, and decided that we draw the line to physical touching (hugging, etc). If the situtation would call for actions beyond that, we'd fade it to black and just discuss what happened. We also picked up a meeting place, in case we'd want to meet alone during the game. A beach near a parking lot with a good view.

    Before the game started, I selected appropriate clothing (a suit) and spent a lot of time thinking about my character. Who he was, what he believed in, how would he act based on the background knowledge I had, how would he talk, what were his relationships with other characters. The hardest part was to memorize details, like names of other player characters, especially those who's players I had not met. When I can't associate a name with a face, I tend to forget the names.

    (Apologies for the long prelude; I don't know if I'm overstating it's importance. Starting the game on next post.)
  • The game started with a player gathering and briefing in the downtown designated playing area which would later be a neutral bar. The briefing started about and hour late, as they always do. The actual brief was quite short; going over the most important safety and rules stuff. Then the gang players were quickly introduced to each other in "Hi, I'm that and that and I'm known for this and this"-fashion. It was a bit disorganised and didn't really do anyhing but show faces of players. I went around and tried to have a quick chat with people I was supposed to know. Few of our gangs players were late, coming in from elsewhere, and we made a quick introductions inside the gang again as they arrived. Then the crowd dispersed, most players heading to locations designated as their gang base and such. The game started.

    I ended up having no one but me in my car, so I took some extra time driving to the suburbs (about 30 minutes), put the Sopranos soundtrack on and started going into character.

    The first evening for me was mostly driving the suburbs and downtown I met the gang who seemed to have several business transactions (drugs and weapons) underway and the meeting of criminal bosses in the evening. I watched the last fifteen minutes of the first game of Soccer World Cup, Albert being compulsive with sports betting. We exchanged several long gazes with Suvi and went out before the others as the gang started to head out to do their respective business. The boss and her henchmen were already late from the meeting I was supposed to drop them into and took their time before leaving. It's no good showing up late. I had certain problems getting into the mood, probably because of the slow start and the scedhuling problems it caused, and the fact that I was really familiar with only one of the characters and players. It's hard to engage people just like that, without a previous connection or anything that would instantly drive you to do something, or lead you into the game. The uneasiness gradually vanished during the drive, though, as we got to chat. All of us started to get a hang of our characters and behave consistently different way than we were behaving few hours ago. I don't particulary like how one of them is behaving, it makes me want yell at him. I don't, cause he has the gun.

    I go around for next three or four hours, acting as a drug courier without even knowing it (I was starting to wonder why nobody ate that Big Mac meal someone brought to the car), sitting at the gas station with few of the guys (while someone is making a real drug deal over the phone, judging by the code-language), sipping coffee and shooting shit. We head to the bar, eventually, when the meeting has ended. I notice my niece hanging out with the other street gang, which makes me worried, doubly so because the kid straight out lies to me when I sent her a text message and ask about her whereabouts. I learn that both gangs are doing a big and dangerous job next morning, my niece included. I try to steer her away by dealing with one of the street gang bosses and succeed.

    And looking at that afterwards, I notice it was too easy. I knew the guy playing the street gang boss, I've been playing with him for ages, and I sought him out. It's no wonder; you gravitate towards the players you know, because you know you can trust that they'll be able to provide that stuff you're after, the experience. I don't know if I got a deal because we, as players, know each other well. I hope not.

    I exchange several text messages with my niece that evening, but we don't meet. I consired dragging her somewhere where we can have a talk, but decide against it. I'm not a father figure and I've taken her out of the worst spot. She can handle the rest. I would have liked to play with her, though, but can't come up with a justification to do that, so I'll let it slide.

    Things are heating up, the gang is buying weapons and I'll have to supply money. I decide that I'll be out of town tomorrow, no matter what. I exchange text messages with Suvi while we are sitting in adjanced rooms and propose a meeting later that night. She accepts. I'll drop some gangmembers to our base sometime later, and then drive to the meeting point. And I'm trembling with anticipation. Long hours with hidden messages have energized me up, I get the adrenaline rush which integrates me, the player, with the character.

    We meet up, we hug, we talk and giggle - and we're both tense as hell. We end up discussing for over an hour about our relationship, plans for future, situation in the gang and town, and decide cash ourselves out tomorrow. We both have loose ends to clear out. It's all very emotional, very intense. It's also suprising how you can end up feeling like you've known someone for a long time just by going through the shared history of characters for couple of hours. I feel like the game has slowly been building up for this; now it starts to roll for me.

    I drive back home (my own home, which feels weird at this point), exchange several late night text messages with Suvi, and have trouble falling asleep.

    (To be continued for day two)
  • I just want to mention that I'm reading with great interest, Merten. I appreciate the amount of detail you're sharing.
  • Posted By: Adam CerlingI just want to mention that I'm reading with great interest, Merten. I appreciate the amount of detail you're sharing.
    Thanks, I was kind of wondering if anyone was reading this. I'm omitting a lot of details of what happened, whom I met and interacted with, so this won't get ridicuously long. If you need details on something, feel free to ask.
  • On second day, I woke after about five hours of sleep, and head off to the negotiation. I felt very powered up and in full anticipation - and worry. Put Nick Cave's "No more shall we part" to play, which was a good choice, since the uncertain mixture of lovesong and religious fatality kind of captured the mood and enchanted it. Drove downtown, parked the car and walked half a kilometer to the grand cafeteria hugging the folder containing my stock papers. Got a mug of - damn good - coffee and a large sandwich, selected a table from the quiet part of the cafeteria, took a morning paper and set to wait. Briefly entertained the idea of asking the waitress how's it going, since the cafeteria was part of the restaurant chain I owned, but decided against it.

    I had almost finished my coffee when the other finarcier and her bodyguard/driver - a guy owning a security company, whom I knew from somewhere - arrived. Negotiated. I weaved a story of me wanting to buy insurance and investing in legal business in case situation would get out of hand. Remembered that the best lies always contain a lot of truth, but not everything. I think it went well, but my heart skipped a beat when she told me that she'd need time to check things out and collect the cash. I would have preferred getting the money now, picking up Suvi and heading to airport. I smiled and agreed that four pm would be an excellent time for meeting up again at the same place for the real exchange.

    Walked out, feeling very tense. Smoked a lot and then some. Finally convinced myself that the matter was out of my hands; either I'd get the money or get shot. Felt very zen after that. At this point, I felt there was very little difference between me and the character. I was constantly hit by emotions which went straight through the proxy character to me and yet I felt that I was acting upon the ideals of the character (as a hindsight; at the moment, I didn't think of this). Can't say if I became the character (player over character) or other way around (character over player) - it's the point where you don't consciously have to act, you just do and know you're doing the right thing. I think it as a kind of mixture, the player working on proxy's terms, but I can't really pinpoint how it works.

    I took a walk to the bar and stopped to make few bets on the British national soccer teams match (didn't win; damn Brits). Met the security guy at the bar, talked about buying shares in his company, which I didn't plan to do, but wanted to keep on the facade of staying in town. Suvi came by, had a quick talk about the negotiations, called the travelling agency (the GM's had several phone numbers where you could call to arrange stuff like this) and ordered two flight tickets to Paris via Bryssel.

    Someone had left me an unsigned envelope at the bar; it had a picture of me and Suvi together before the death of her ex-husband. Felt afraid and powerless for a while, then decided that if someone was going to blackmail me, I'd buy some time and try to skip the town with the money. If it was a warning, well, I'd end up dead. Life is. Went to lunch with the security guy, tried to appear calm. Got a call from the gang leader who was acting very paranoid and I didn't know why. She wanted to keep the whole gang in one place and out from the streets. Had she learned about my private business ventures or the picture? I sent several text messages to Suvi and told her to get out and meet me somewhere.

    Drove to a gas station near the gang base and met Suvi. Showed her the pictures. We came up with a plan B; if the shit did hit the fan, we'd get out separately and meet at a hotel near the airport. Hold hands for a long time. Suvi left to fetch her little sister who was part of the gang and had gotten a wound from a gunshot. Also learned that the gang operation in morning had not gone well and there had been several cases of violence. Got really worried abou my niece, called her to ask if she was okay. She was, though sounded more than a bit shaken. Told her to keep her head down.

    This is one thing I really loved; I got all the information on what happened elsewhere in the game really late and through a "broken telephone", so I never had a clear picture of what had happened, just rumours and second hand stuff. I was really worried about it all, felt powerless and out of control. Just like an outsider who was forced to keep the distance, but wanted to know. Loved it.

    Went back to downtown and sat down to a park to collect myself before the money exchange. Smoked a lot. Felt gripping sense of doom. Walked to cafeteria and waited outside where I got a phone call from the financier. She told me she couldn't make it to the cafeteria because of tight schedhule but told me to come to the bar where we could conclude the deal. Feared for the worst. Psyched myself on the way to the bar and felt zen again.
  • I got the deal. I handed the stock papers and got a metal case full of money. I had expected a good, clean money transcation, but got cash. Didn't complain. Tried to look calm. Felt very vulnerable, having done a deal in sight of the bar, hugging a case full of money and walking to my car. Did some work for the gang for the next few hours, picking up goods and delivering Suvi's sister from underground hospital to the gang base, while having a shitload of money in the trunk of my car. Wondered how Suvi was doing.

    Got a phonecall from my niece who wanted to know something about this one big time bad motherfucker crime boss who had escaped from country several years earlier. Apparently, he had returned and raised a hell of which I had been completely unaware (though almost all "broken phone" messages about violence was connected to this). Almost wet my pants. Called Suvi to get the hell out and meet me at the hotel, but found out that she was driving out of the town and towards north with the gang boss, on their way to meet the badass crime boss. Either to negotiate or to kill him. Wouldn't have bet a dime on my bosses changes. Told Suvi to get rid of our boss in some convinient way and then get the hell out.

    I Drove to a gas station to get yet another cup of coffee. Waited anxiously and called around to get a better picture of what was happening. Got hold on our street gangs boss, who was arming up and heading with his and the other street gang to the same place Suvi was going, to kill the badass boss. The other crime gang had dissolved, their leader disappeared and rest of the upper echelon scattered. Finally got a phone call from Suvi who had dropped our boss off to a dirt road in some place really far away. Convinced her to turn her car around and head back to Helsinki, stop at some gas station - I'd drive there to meet her.

    So, I got into my car, headed to the highway and put pedal to the metal. I drove about half'n'hour, just on the speedlimit, and felt awful in a good way. Fear, hope, anticipation, all that jazz. It was one of those hell on wheels -rides. A definite Turku Manifesto closet playing moment, right there.

    Finally reached the right gas station, saw Suvi's car and felt a huge wave of relief. We just standed there for ten minutes, laughed, went through the "oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!" -discussion. I said I wanted to show her something, opened the trunk, and showed the money. Later, the player told me that she had fully expected me to give her a engagement ring. Which I had actually thought about, but forgot. That was the player being himself, as my wife later mentioned.

    We made plans to drive to a harbour city some few hundred kilometers away, get ourself to a ferry and head to Sweden. So we got into cars and drove off, stopped to yet another gas station, called the GM's about our plans and went out of the game. The game ended about two hours later.

    (To be continued with conclusions, notes and the stuff)
  • In conclusion.

    I took the long way out and wrote a description of what I did, hoping to both pinpoint the problems and to give an example of what I consider to be pretty traditional character-immersive nordic LARP, from player experience point of view. It got a bit out of hand.

    My experiences and the game in general

    The game had it up's and down's. I felt that it started out slowly and I had some problems on getting myself into it. I think part of it was because of the organisational hassle (starting late, distracted by the player meeting), part was because I couldn't connect with some of the other players and had trust issues on how they are playing (rather than if I can trust them to make fair decisions), and partly because friday evening didn't really start out as too exciting. From friday night and on, I'd call it one of the best roleplaying experiences I've had.

    The game in general didn't go that well. A number of players simply didn't have enough to do, or had the all the stuff at the beginning of the game. Some of them just tagged along and got bored; some just kept away from the game in general because they had nothing to do. There was some amount of consistency problems with the character background material; some stuff contradicted itself, some was just missing, either because of a mistake or because nobody wrote the stuff the players would have needed or wanted. Some players bailed out and had to be replaced with NPC players. I think the general consensus was that the game was okay or good, but had a lot of problems, some of them really significant.

    I completely missed most of those. My experience was mostly solo or duo play - that's where I got my kicks from. Rest of the game acted more or less as background stuff for me; I interacted, but didn't really participate. The character background supported this - me keeping distance from lot of other characters - but counting the trust issue, the fact that I knew about some of the consistency problems (and certainly wanted to avoid those) and that I did have another close player whom I could trust to provide the stuff I wanted, leads me to think that keeping a distance could have been a conscious or unconscious choice. That would be a bit of a selfish thing to do, but in general, I consider LARPing to be a pretty selfish experience. Collaboration happens before the game, not really during it, when playing like this.

    On character-immersion and rewards

    I wanted to illustrate how to enter the "immersion" state and what kind of things support it. There are two things which I think that reward this type of playing: experiencing strong emotions and the whole experience itself. It's a mixture of doing something by yourself and being able to feel what it would be like to act as someone else, through a proxy character.

    On using the physical dimension, de-centralized larping

    I'm hoping this was kind of self-evident; how to use a city as playing area, how to spread out the players in it, how to use hotspot-playing areas and how the communication works (or does not). Also, what the 360 degree mapping of imagined and real reality means and how the physical dimension (walking, driving, doing stuff) enchances this type of play.

    On writing Actual Play reports

    You tell me. Obviously, this wasn't one. I couldn't think of how to bring out a single issue without touching the others, so I took the easy way out.

    Phew. So there. Next time, I'll choose a tad bit shorter event.
  • Posted By: MertenFinally got a phone call from Suvi who had dropped our boss off to a dirt road in some place really far away. Convinced her to turn her car around and head back to Helsinki, stop at some gas station - I'd drive there to meet her.
    That poor woman. Did she literally get stranded outside of Helsinki? Was that in the briefing?
    Posted By: MertenOn writing Actual Play reports

    You tell me.
    Use names of characters and players. Use them the first time you refer to them. Instead of saying "our gang's boss" say Jane (played by Mary). And then be clear about whether you mean Jane or Mary later.

    Other than that, you presented a really clear and engaging play report, with a few really good nuggets worth digging out.
  • edited September 2006
    Posted By: Judson LesterThat poor woman. Did she literally get stranded outside of Helsinki? Was that in the briefing?
    I think our discussion on the issue was like this:

    "I can't leave her here."
    "She'll either be dead soon or will kill us."
    "She'll be stranded here."
    "That buys us more time. Pete (the street gang leader) and his guys are driving there. They can pick her up if she's still alive."
    "Okay."

    I knew that Pete would kill our boss if she wasn't already dead.

    Outside the character context, we knew that she had a phone, was heading to someplace with players and at least one gamemaster, and a load of other people were getting there. We stayed on a gas station some fourty kilometers away and waited for the game to stop, just in case, though.

    The place was not mentioned in the briefings, which only said "Helsinki area and the vicinity, but there are no limits" - it was something like 80 kilometers away, I think.
    Use names of characters and players. Use them the first time you refer to them. Instead of saying "our gang's boss" say Jane (played by Mary). And then be clear about whether you mean Jane or Mary later.
    Good point. I'll have to dig my briefings to check out some names. I named only Suvi (character) - must have been an unconscious decision to stress out the importance of that relationship.

    Edit: Fixed quoting.
  • Posted By: MertenThe place was not mentioned in the briefings, which only said "Helsinki area and the vicinity, but there are no limits" - it was something like 80 kilometers away, I think.
    I think what I would specifically worry about being in the briefings, given that some people have cars and some not, I'd want to hear "no player stranding" - that if you need to leave someone alone without a car, you have to tell a GM or something.
    Posted By: MertenI named only Suvi (character) - must have been an unconscious decision to stress out the importance of that relationship.
    It was definitely effective. But the rest of the report was hard to follow as a result.

    And as a complete aside, that Turku Manifesto is some strong stuff. Chapter V reads like a sexual dominance contract. Fascinating reading.
  • Posted By: Judson LesterI think what I would specifically worry about being in the briefings, given that some people have cars and some not, I'd want to hear "no player stranding" - that if you need to leave someone alone without a car, you have to tell a GM or something.
    I don't think this was mentioned in the briefing - or, in fact, any briefings of city games I've been in. I suspect it's mostly because the games have been set in a city, where public transportation coverage is so good that you really can't get stranted. But you're right; in this game, where the playing area was extended outside the city limits, this would have been a good addition.
    And as a complete aside, that Turku Manifesto is some strong stuff. Chapter V reads like a sexual dominance contract. Fascinating reading.
    I'm still not sure if the manifesto has hurt or advanced the eläytyjivist play. There's a lot of good stuff in it (The vow is something I strive to play by, unless told otherwise), but the actual manifesto is written from such black and white -viewpoint, with so a provocative style, that it probably undermines a lot of the message.
  • Okay, I'm really jealous, even if it didn't necessarily turn out as well as you might have liked.

    A crime-themed, city wide, weekend long LARP?!?!
    That already takes the cake for awesome in my book.

    In terms of planning/organization, how do you think it could have been better?

    If you were offered a chance to do another one, run by the same people, would you?
  • Posted By: komradebobA crime-themed, city wide, weekend long LARP?!?!
    That already takes the cake for awesome in my book.
    It didn't take long for that LARP to be full of players, so I guess the awesomeness of theme is universal. I liked it a lot and signed in instantly - I rarely sign in on LARP's which are open for anyone (even with a screening process for the registration), but I've been in LARP's organised by the same people and they have been good.
    In terms of planning/organization, how do you think it could have been better?
    At least these things come to mind:

    - More emphasis on player experience in design; a lot of characters simply did not have enough to do, or the prepared content (plot hooks, scripted events, social networks) was such that you had to exploit it all early in the game.
    - Consistency. A lot of things in character backgrounds and information in general contradicted. In a LARP where there fixing these things after the game has started is not only ankward (The GM making rulings or clarifications, or genelly just running around fixing things) but almost impossible (the players are not in single place, there are really no good methods of using that GM power of re-writing things on the fly) this wreaks havoc.
    - More planning on the scripted events, as such were used. For example, the street gangs were supposed to attack a place of an arms dealer and this was pre-written as ambush. The characters found this out beforehand and evacuated after a brief firefight. It was, or so I'm told, a good scene from the perspective of players and characters (the pre-high of planning an attack, the coolness of going there armed to the teeth, the close escape without no one getting hurt), the organisers would probably have wanted to draw out more stuff from that. Incidentally, there was another, much smaller ambush, which worked out better. Using scripted events is a tricky thing.

    Incidentally, I've been involved in writing a citywide game and I think we managed to avoid most of these mistakes by design choices, but managed to make a whole lot of new ones.
    If you were offered a chance to do another one, run by the same people, would you?
    I would, most probably, if the LARP would sound cool. I've been in several games run roughly by the same people (a weekend game of American civil war run in roughly authentic-like enviroment - getting wet, cold and miserable works for me if that's what I expect it to be - and Dark Ages Mage-kind of one day game which didn't work as well as it could for me, personally, but was rather good as whole) and they can produce quality stuff. What worried me is that the problems of the game were such that should have been anticipated and could have easily been corrected. Wheter they happened because of misscommunication, problems with organisation (at least one of the writers didn't manage and the rest had to cover this up in tight scedhule) or something else doesen't really matter to the players.

    A smoothly running LARP with no hiccups is a rare thing and some mistakes are to be expected, especially on large-scale games like this one. But less is better; LARP's are fragile things when it comes to such mistakes.

    I've usually had good or at least decent characters and the experiences have ranged from mind-blowing to entertaining, so I would probably have no reason not to attend.
  • Posted By: MertenThe game mechanics were simple: players decide what happen. If someone hits you, it hurts. If someone stabs you, it hurts a lot and you have to seek medical attention. If someone shoots you, you either end up wounded badly or die, but you have to seek medical attention.
    I'd like to focus on this for a moment. How does the mechanic "players decide what happens" actually work in play? Is it a bad thing if players need to talk a long time out of character to reach a decision on what happens? What if there's irreconcilable disagreement? How is this style of decision-making taught to new players?
  • Posted By: Adam CerlingI'd like to focus on this for a moment. How does the mechanic "players decide what happens" actually work in play? Is it a bad thing if players need to talk a long time out of character to reach a decision on what happens? What if there's irreconcilable disagreement? How is this style of decision-making taught to new players?
    The site containing actual wording of the rules is not available, so I'll have to rely on my memory. I believe the wording to be "if there is combat, the rough guidelines is that hitting does this, knife does that, shooting does that and shooting from close range either kills you or wounds you badly, depending on player decision. Receiving player decides what happens, keeping these guidelines in mind, and as dramatically as he wants."

    What happens in actual play, in my experience, is that the receiving player makes a quick decision about what happens to his character and how badly he is wounded, and that they usually follow the guidelines quite closely. Getting wounded is usually considered to be intresting, so at least I haven't witnessed arguments of "I hit you! You did not!". Characters are rarely killed, though, unless the moment is considered to be approximately dramatic or if the attacker clearly meants to kill the character. Not dying to a point blank shot to head is considered to be bad sportmanship.

    Getting into long argument of what happens is considered to be a bad thing, kind of like rules lawyering. If there's something to be argued or discussed, this is usually done with somekind of Out Of Character-sign (like hand in a fist above your head) noting that this is player discussing to player. Such exchanges are usually kept in bare minimum. If there is disagreement, the receiving side usually wins and the attacker lets him, because of the wish to minimize the OOC-hassle, which is considered to be distrupting to the game as whole. In dire circumstances, you'd have to get a gamemaster to judge things, either physically or through the phone.

    In city-wide games there's usually very little of violence, due to the fact that it's not wise to do such in things in public places for characters or for players. It can happen in designated places, though a lot of them usually are considered to be neutral or owned by someone. Also, the fact that characters can easily get killed or badly hurt usually suppresses the amount of violence, which kind of makes sense. Brawling can be done with acting, getting really violent usually means that the attacker wants to win and acts accordingly; there's little to argue from defenders side. Keeping characters from dying early in the game is something of a design point, though sometimes this happens.

    I'm not aware of long arguments in the mentioned game (though if there were any, I might not be, since I wasn't really involved in such situtations), or in city-games/no-rules games in general. While the decision making is not usually taught to new players except in the way that rules are explained clearly, I'd think this way is dominant in local live-roleplaying these days - so unless player is new to live-roleplaying in general, he probably knows the drill. There is a strong social pressure to "do the right thing", to act according to character intrest and realistically, and not players intrest.

    There are, of course, some obvious downsides to this, like how you can trust players that you have never met before and do they share the same ideals as you do.

    Decisions outside of combat are based on simulation; you can do whatever you can with means (knowledge, possessions, etc) your character (and player) has. Arguing is arguing, exchange of goods means that you have to have the goods (not necassarily as physical props, though usually there are such). There's a certain lack of physical obstacles because of this - some of these are simulated through play instructions like "this door is locked, picking it requires that you know how to pick locks and takes five minutes".
  • As a sidenote, I'll have to add and clarify that a kind of social contract was published with a title of Roleplaying Contract in Live-Roleplayers handbook, published by Finnish Live-Roleplayers Assosication in 1997. It governs, aside from other things, the separation of player and character and ideals of character-immersive play. So, in a sense, a certain style of play was developed in early years of live-roleplaying, which then was formalized, written down and published. I don't know how widely the book is read by younger generations these days, but at least the circles where I play in pretty extensively still use it (the principles, if not the actual text) as social contract. I'm under the impression that the principles are pretty widely integrated to the Nordic live-roleplaying culture in general.

    I'll have to hunt down the book and check out the exact text, one of these days.
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