jducoeur: (Default)
(Warning: diary ramble ahead.)

Intercon was scheduled a couple of weeks earlier than usual this year -- our experimental hotel last year wasn't great, and by the time we found our new site, the only options were this weekend or Easter.  So this year, I got to spend my birthday (yesterday) in high-intensity LARPing.


Let me say first: the new hotel rocks, and I hope we develop a long and fruitful relationship with it.  My initial reaction on hearing about it wasn't so positive -- the only thing I know about Warwick, RI is that it's the home of a certain Ducal pair of my SCA sibs, so I was basically going, "The Crowne Plaza in Middle of Nowhere, RI?  Oy."  I will state for the record that I was entirely incorrect in this -- Warwick is just far enough from downtown Providence to not be "city", but otherwise close.

And the hotel itself was great.  It's *huge* -- we had plenty of space, and didn't even rent the large Grand Ballroom wing.  It's well-furnished and comfortable, and not terribly expensive.  The service was top-notch: friendly, efficient and businesslike.  Even the concession food didn't entirely suck (which is about the best one can usually ask for in concession food) and had surprisingly excellent cupcakes.  So yeah, it's an hour away, but we should totally stick with this place.


Due to the storm, I missed the Thursday evening programming; I skidded in just before the roundtable I was moderating at noon Friday, "Playing to Enable Others" -- basically a session on how to be a generous player.  It was a bit of a BS session, much of it devoted to discussion of what the parameters of "generosity" were in the context of LARP, but it was a pleasant chat.  And I stuck around for the following discussion of "Plotting by the Seat of Your Pants", which gave me an excuse to relate a good war story or two, before striking out to the nearby shopping mall in search of pale blue sparkly nail polish.  (Give it a minute, and that'll make sense.)

I didn't play any games on Friday evening, opting instead to spend a few hours pulling Ops duty.  I'll have to remember for the future that Friday evening Ops is *fun* -- it's exactly the kind of high-intensity whirlwind that I always enjoy, answering questions, giving directions, checking folks in and all that.  I might have to make a habit of that.


Saturday was All LARP, All the Time -- I started running about 8:30am and didn't finish until about 11pm.  I played in three games, all good.

First up was Librarian and Catalog.  I can't go into *too* much detail without spoilers, but the public blurb sums up the high concept well: "The robot Librarian.  The damaged computer Catalog.  An alien artifact.  A chance to confront yourself -- again, and again, and again -- amid the collapse of parallel universes."  16 players, all playing The Librarian.  My version was "Scornful, Disciplined, Ruthless" (Librarian tR), and it was just the kind of focused, intense, totally-not-me character I was looking for.  Suffice it to say, the game is weird but fun, a bit slow to start but well-paced, and high in player agency.  Recommended if it runs again.

Saturday evening was The Inversion of Me and My Room, which I've been hearing good things about for a couple of years, so when it appeared on the schedule a few weeks ago I transferred to it.  I can say *very* little about this game, but suffice it to say it is *spectacularly* weird, trippy and dark, an iconic All The Feels game.  Recommended, but be prepared to throw yourself wholeheartedly into the emotional wringer, and don't expect things to make too much sense before endgame.  (For those who know the game, I played Helmer (family).)  It did leave me with a desire to finally rewrite my game Shards of Memory, which is in the same general category.


The high point of my weekend came in the middle of the day, though.  I had put Librarian and Catalog as my first-choice game, and therefore missed getting into Cracks in the Orb, the Dragaera game.  I decided to wait-list myself for it, and that finally paid off last Monday, when I got in.  For those who know the Dragaera books, Cracks is set something like 500 years before The Phoenix Guards, and includes younger versions of some of the characters from The Khaavren Chronicles.

For those who don't know the series, suffice it to say that the Khaavren Chronicles are a fantasy pastiche of Dumas, specifically The Three Musketeers.  The game follows that, although it also pulls in pastiches of a variety of novels of that vintage.  (Sadly, I can't say which novel *my* character was a pastiche of without major spoilers.)

Anyway, the game was a complete hoot.  My character, Fotheringil, was a foppish Tiassa (with more than a little Khaavren in him) who is a member of the Empress' personal guard.  ("Foppish" -- hence the nail polish, which is actually mentioned specifically in his character sheet -- light blue and white are the house colors of the Tiassa.)  He proved well-connected, and central to one or two major plots.  It's well-written and deep stuff, although I did wind up feeling for the players of my own games -- Lise (the primary author) is every bit as fond of deep biographical character sheets as I am, and the game is *very* intricate, with all sorts of major bluesheets and mechanics, so I had four days to absorb about 30 pages of fairly dense material.  If I didn't already know the source material, I might have had real difficulty with it.

ETA: for added fun, one of the major mechanics in the game is Social Dance (which allows you to remove the stain of Dishonor, and gain insights into your dance partner) -- which is represented by dancing, in this case the Belle Qui Pavane.  I offered to teach it, and pointed out to the GMs that it would be *totally* in-character for Fotheringil to teach everyone this new, fashionable dance form.  So I wound up teaching the dance in-character, and called it each time it came around.

But it was great fun -- I achieved nearly all of my game goals, including getting the girl.  I got 7/8ths of the way towards achieving my *big* goal, and I take fair pride in that: the goal was genuinely hard, and I only realized late in the game that finishing it would have required playing some fairly specific politics an hour or two earlier.  Suffice it to say, the rest of it involved strategic wargaming, and that's an area that I'm moderately good at.  As it was, I got close enough to support my personal headcanon of making progress towards the goal a bit further down the line.


After Inversion wrapped at 11pm, it was off to party.  Sadly, I'm not well-connected to the Intercon party scene, so I kind of had to crash Nuance's traditional Intercon birthday party.  (Which underscored how nice this hotel is.  Her party was originally right next to my room, so I was a bit concerned about sleep; however, as that grew a tad out of control, they moved it to one of the below-ground game spaces, far away from guest rooms, which was a pretty great choice all around.)  And then an hour at the traditional Intercon Dance Party, which is always one of the highlights of my year -- where else can you find people boogying in an eight-foot-tall inflatable T Rex outfit? -- and finally bedtime much too late.

As for today, I decided to skip Closing Ceremonies -- maybe the first time I've done that in 20 years -- in order to get home before the roads got too bad.  Hope everything finished off well; in general, it was a fine con, and bodes well for the future...
jducoeur: (Default)
Okay, here's a curious question: what sets of gender-neutral pronouns do you prefer?

The thing is, I'm writing LARPs in Querki nowadays -- that was the original motivation for the system (a dozen years ago), and while it's now only one use case among many, it's one that matters to me. In preparation for talking it up a bit at Intercon, I'm starting to get a first-draft LARP App ready, so that other folks can use Querki for LARP writing and management.

Gender has become a fairly hot topic in the LARP community: many people prefer to write relatively gender-neutral, not actually assigning genders to many or all of the characters until relatively late in the process. I tried this out myself for A Respectful Calm last year, and it was a fascinating exercise in pushing through my own assumptions: in the end, I would up with five "hard-gendered" characters, and 24 neutral. (That is, five characters were intrinsically gendered by the nature of their stories; the rest were left neutral until after casting.)

In order to do that, I had to create a way to write in a gender-neutral fashion in Querki; I did that by adding functions for the various pronouns. So for example, if you are writing in the context of a Character, you would say [[sie]] to mean "he or she". This works quite nicely in Querki -- a character sheet can refer to, say, B Ari (the CSI investigator) by pronoun as [[B Ari -> sie]], and that will become "he" or "she" depending on the final gender assigned to the character post-casting. Or in the Who You Know section of the character sheet, where any given entry refers to a specific character, you can just use [[sie]] and it'll interpret it appropriately. (I also added some special magic sauce in Querki to match case: if you say [[Sie]], it'll come out as "He" or "She".)

Of course, you can also leave the characters ungendered, and it'll just use the gender-neutral forms directly, but in my experience that's pretty unusual. Or you can completely ignore this whole mechanism and write in the traditional pre-gendered way -- this is more about allowing gender-neutral writing than requiring it.

It was an experiment, but I found that, once you get used to it, it becomes fairly natural. And the exercise changes the way you *think* about the characters, which opens up more design space: I found that there were a lot of characters where my original mental model had been for a particular gender, but in practice they worked fine (if, often, with subtly different culturally-influenced connotations) with the other. Indeed, about a third of them wound up cast opposite to my original expectations, and they worked well. It was quite refreshing.

But the thing is, I pulled the actual pronouns out of my ass. I used "sie" because it's the he/she I've come across most often, but wound up skating out onto thin ice as I figured out the rest of them. I wound up with:
  • Sie -- he / she (subject)

  • Hir -- her / him (direct object)

  • Hirs -- hers / his ("this thing is hers / his" -- I don't even remember which part of speech this is)

  • Hirp -- her / his (possessive -- this one was when I realized I was out of my depth)
The underlying mechanism is flexible, so folks can add their own variants if they like, but I'd prefer that the upcoming LARP App be based on the best consensus I can come up with.

So -- what set of gender-neutral pronouns do you think is best? Any particular reason, or just personal taste? I've found that I needed at least the above four parts of speech in order to write a complete character sheet, so I'm looking for suggestions that include all of them; I'm also quite open to more-complete sets. Also, to be useful, each pronoun must be at least as distinct as their standard gendered variant, since the point is to be able to translate these into their gendered forms automatically.
jducoeur: (Default)
Last week and this have been mainly focused on frantic preparation for A Respectful Calm, my game for Intercon this year. I had thought I was in good shape: the game has been largely *designed* for months, with lots of archetypes and characters and plots and stuff outlined in Querki. And I kept coming up with Querki enhancements to make it easier to manage the game, which kept taking the place of actually writing.

Yeah, I'm out of practice. I had forgotten quite how long it takes to write 26 good character sheets; hence, all the frantic prep, which has mostly been writing. I'm a faster writer than most, but *man* I've had to crank out a lot. (Kudos to [livejournal.com profile] laurion for taking on some of the characters, which has kept my back from being totally to the wall.)

It's mostly done now, but this morning I found myself with three characters left, and all of them shared one thing in common: they were all too weak. That hadn't been obvious from the plot web, but when I thought through what their character sheets would look like, they just didn't have enough meat.

At which point, I pulled out one of my favorite tricks: I asked what these three characters might have in common. And the answer that came to me is a thing of beauty. It's a pain in the ass, actually: a new plot that requires changes to several other characters to fit it in, but it is lovely and evil and fun, makes all three of those characters *much* more interesting, and should give a bunch of people more to do. I have a lot more writing to do in the next two days, but I finally feel like the end result should hum properly, and none of the characters look boring.

The moral of the story? LARP writing is a lot like coding, and I need to work on being more agile. Design is good, but only gets you so far: until you actually write the "code" and see how it works, there are going to be bugs in your design that you don't even realize are there...
jducoeur: (querki)
On the one hand, I'm a bit cranky that it took me a *long* time -- 4-6 hours -- to code up the casting questionnaire for A Respectful Calm in Querki. That's unacceptable, IMO: *nothing* should take me more than an hour.

OTOH, this is a lot more than a web form that sends an email. The form is a complex composite data structure, because I decided to get fancy, with a generalized concept of "question", each of which has a label, a Yes/Maybe/No optional response, and a way to mark whether it was important to them. Each player gets their own login, and can come back and re-edit their questionnaire until we cast. Once we *do* cast, the character hints will become available to them simply by logging in, and we can distribute character sheets and other private info the same way. And of course, I can slice-and-dice the responses with queries if I decide I want to: the joys of a real database.

So: not good enough yet, but not a bad start. This sucker uses *all* of Querki's most advanced features -- Model Types, User Values, and the brand-spanking-new Client -- and knock on wood, it seems to be working...
jducoeur: (Default)
Two days until Intercon O signups open (if you don't have a membership yet, get it now). That's going to become more and more a focus for me, since I'm finally diving back into LARP writing, after several years away from it.

This year's game is "experimental" for me -- that is to say, it is weirdly normal and down-to-earth. I've mentioned it before here (indeed, I mentioned it the day after I thought it up, a year or so ago): A Respectful Calm is going to be a somewhat dark, very real-world story, set in the aftermath of a mass shooting at a company downtown. Instead of being a game of violence, it's a game about the repercussions of violence, and the ways our society reacts to it. (It says something that the four major groupings of characters in the Factions list are "Employees", "Police", "Media" and "Politicians".)

It's an unusual game for me in many ways. One is the complete lack of fantastical elements: I think this is the first time I've ever written a game that wasn't at *least* satirical, and nearly all of my games have been fantasy or science fiction. Aside from a little bit of high-tech speculation in the background, this one is totally down-to-earth, with normal people dealing with an abnormal situation.

Maybe even weirder for me is the lack of uber-plot: for better or worse, my games usually have The Big Thing that takes precedence over everything else. I try not to let that overwhelm everyones' individual stories, but it's always there. Not in this case, though: The Big Thing has already happened, and we wind up with something of a fractal of reactions, as everyones' lives spin off of that in different directions.

I'm also trying my hand at writing gender-neutral characters, after having treated gender quite casually in all my previous ones. The topic of gender bias in games has come up a lot in recent years, and I've decided to run at it quite deliberately. I'm allowing myself to write gendered characters in the cases where it is seriously relevant to the character, but that's only a modest number; most are written gender-neutral, to the extent that the underlying Querki database has both male and female names for each one, and I'm planning on writing a few functions so that pronouns get adjusted automatically after casting. (I allowed myself ten specifically-gendered characters when I bid the game, but it currently looks like I'm coming out with four, out of thirty.) It's being an interesting exercise in challenging my own assumptions about how relevant gender is to character.

And of course, it's all written in Querki. This kind of brings the Querki project full circle: it started as a LARP-design system about ten years ago (I believe I originally built the prototype for Girl Genius: Agatha Heterodyne and the Hidden Castle). This time, I'm planning on not just writing the game in Querki, but doing the printing and casting through it as well. I expect it'll be a learning experience, as usual.

For those who care, I will admit that the game is not fully written yet: at this point, I have the character list, the major plots and a lot of the interaction web, but I'm still fleshing it out. I've never failed to have a game ready well before gametime, though, and I don't intend to start here.

It should be an interesting game, and I look forward to seeing where the players take the stories. I hope you'll consider signing up; it's scheduled for Friday at 8pm...
jducoeur: (Default)
... is mostly that the ideas start coming to you whether you want them or not.

I *cannot* bid a game for Intercon N -- there is still way too much on my plate for the next six months for it to be sane. But it looks like I am likely going to write one for Intercon O: it hit me square-on yesterday, and it's already about half-designed. (Massage appointments turn out to be excellent for this sort of thing.) It's way out of my usual wheelhouse -- my games are always Fantasy/SF and/or humorous, whereas this one is *very* real-world and dark.

But it's too timely to ignore, and it looks likely to be a good, intense game. So for 2015, I suspect I will be writing A Respectful Calm...
jducoeur: (querki)
Yesterday, at NELCO, was the first-ever demo of Querki. ("A decade from now, you can tell your family that you were there.") Overall, I think it went pretty well.

We started with a small-but-decent group of about 6-8 people, but it grew as the hour went along -- by the end, we had over 20 folks there, some standing in the back, which was very gratifying. I was a bit nervous, and started with a too-fast (and probably slightly eye-glazing) burble about the history of the project and roughly what it is, but after about ten minutes I managed to take a breath and encourage folks to ask questions.

As planned, we did an exercise of, "Let's write a LARP!" Fortunately, as I'd hoped, Christian was in the audience, so I could just say, "Mike -- give me a game!", to which the answer was Mike McAfee's Funeral. Of course, we didn't write very much content in the twenty minutes we had: one Character (Mike's corpse), and two Bluesheets (Being Dead, for Mike, and Mourners, which was some smart-aleck's response to, "What does a Bluesheet look like if there are no Characters in it?"). But it was a fun interactive exercise, and I think helped folks understand that it's pretty quick and easy to add properties and build your Models on the fly.

The main takeaway was that Apps will be dead-critical. Everyone agreed that the flexibility of Querki was very neat, and some folks were very appreciative of the fact that it's so easy to customize the Space to suit your particular game's needs, but most agreed that they were much more likely to start with a canned LARP Design App than try to construct it from scratch themselves. That matched my expectations. Nobody really *wants* a new platform -- what they want is the things that can be built *on* that platform. That's fine: the business plan already assumes that 99% of users will mostly work from Apps.

A bit later in the afternoon, we had a compare-and-contrast session about game-writing tools, with me talking about Querki; Nat talking about Vellum (and the European project Larpwriter), and Ken talking about GameTeX.

It was actually fascinating, seeing how we had each attacked similar problems. On the Flexibility scale, Querki was agreed to be the most-flexible and least-handholding, with Larpwriter as the most prescriptive. Querki is, so far, mainly focused on the design and writing stages (since those are my passions); GameTeX turns out to be *vastly* more powerful on the production side, with a strong emphasis on final layout (being a TeX variant), enough so that I half-seriously remarked that we might someday explore the possibility of using GameTeX as an output format. Vellum was somewhere in-between, although actually more like Querki at the conceptual level than I had expected.

Some additional interesting questions were raised, including one that hadn't occurred to me: can you do automated gender-switching, for when you're recasting a game? I think the answer for Querki is yes, but doing it *well* is likely to be an interesting problem. (GameTeX does do it, but it apparently took a good deal of effort to get right.)

Overall, it was a great time, and I'm going to have to make room for NELCO in my schedule in the future: it's a good mellow weekend of talking about LARP with other creators, and provided me with lots of good food for thought...
jducoeur: (Default)
Reminder for those interested in LARP and/or Querki -- this weekend, at the Radisson Chelmsford (the usual site of Intercon), is NELCO: the New England LARP Conference. I expect it to be a lot of fun: there is going to be a full schedule of panels, a Build Your Own Game, and generally lots of folks talking about the writing and playing of LARP.

I've got several panels on Saturday, including a one-hour sneak peek at Querki at 1pm. This is going to be a high-danger event: I'm going to do a demo of building a Space on the fly, with very little pre-canned, so it's pretty certain that *something* will go wrong. But I'd love to have folks come by, ask questions, and participate in the demo. (I'll be encouraging audience members to help me design a Space for building a LARP -- with any luck, it'll be a fun exercise.)

So if you're free, come on by, at least for Saturday. It promises to be an interesting day...
jducoeur: (Default)
I wound up playing only two games during Intercon -- I'd been planning on three, but Pendragon failed to make its minimum number of players. That proved to actually be fine, though: Kate and I had managed to get precisely opposite schedules for the con, with no time actually seeing each other. So we got a lazy Saturday morning together in-between our games.


Saturday dinner proved fortuitous. We had intended to wander over to Bertucci's for a quick and easy meal, only to find it mobbed beyond belief. (Maybe by the teenagers who were occupying the rest of our hotel.) So we began to wander, and drove past Moonstones. (Which Kate had originally suggested, but I had failed to grasp the point that it was Right There.) Remembering that [livejournal.com profile] ladysprite had recently given it a good review, we tried it out, and it was delightful -- pricier than I'd intended for a quick between-games meal, but all the food was quite good (if not quite the revelation that Bacaro was the other week), service was solid, and they took us at our word that we needed to be efficient about it. We'll have to remember this for future cons at this hotel.


So my first game was Saturday evening: Hitherby Dragons. I confess, I'd never even heard of the story before, and had been lazy about digging into it before-game. Finally, when Kate went to go play Collision Imminent! (of all the games I've (co-)written, probably the one that has best endured) on Saturday afternoon, I sat down and started reading.

Oy -- I am *horribly* hooked. Hitherby undoubtedly isn't to everyone's taste: it is messy, complex, elliptical and as much a philosophy ramble as a story. But I *like* philosophy, and almost every chapter forces me to pause and think. So my intended half-hour to read into my character (I was playing Siddhartha, so I didn't need a ton of background) turned into a three-hour surf around the story. (Since then, I've bought three of her Kindle novels, and begun to read the story in earnest. I'm still working my way through The Legend of Ink Catherly, which is one of the finest pieces of mystical analogy I've read in years.)

The game itself was good (I had fun, anyway), although several people in discussion afterwards pointed out that it was too widget-hunty. I've brought that up to the GMs, and I hope they'll enhance it and run it again sometime: the mechanics are good, and the concept is very neat, but it needs more plot web to hang the characters on.


Sunday morning was Uwe Boll's Christmas Special, possibly the most perfectly Sunday-morning game ever. I'm not sure that the casting was *entirely* random, but it might have been. You got assigned a character, and a one-line description of what that character was like, which was basically the extent of "casting". (I was playing the son of the family, the bitter cast-off from a failed super-soldier experiment.) Then you, the player, chose an actor that you were playing to play that role -- theoretically a B-list actor, but they didn't really structure our experience. (I chose David Tennant.) We all walked into the room, with pretty much that much information, and the director began telling us the scenes, as they came up -- Go!

This one really crossed the line from conventional LARP into improv comedy. We had Charlie Sheen swanning around the "set", being encouraging at people between sneaking off to snort a line. There was Cher, starting and finishing the movie with musical numbers. (Including a final Rockettes-line of the entire cast singing, "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas".) Snoop Dogg insisted that it was offensive to him to be cast as a drug dealer, so the script was hastily re-written during the car chase, to have him smuggling cabbage instead. Dame Judy Dench (playing my character's mother, also a super-soldier) and I got to emote at each other, then wound up working together for the climactic fight scene against the alien vampires. Lindsey Lohan got annoyed about being cast as Burt Reynolds' love interest, and got the director to let her character have an affair with Dame Judy's instead. (Which of course got a response of "Girl-on-girl action! I like it!") And so on.

It was all ridiculous fun -- the most loosely-structured game I've ever played but quite relaxing for end-of-con. The consensus of the players was mild regret that somebody wasn't actually filming it. I hope they re-run it: I suspect that many folks would enjoy it, and by the structure of the game it's likely to be very different every time. It would be a great game to box and distribute, since it requires precious little prep and is super-flexible...
jducoeur: (device)

... but Dance Practice: the LARP practically writes itself.  Hmm.  Geloxia is practically worth it all by itself...

jducoeur: (Default)
What is the sound of a Jaegermonster launched to America by electric catapult?
How many litter boxes are required by an invading army of cats?
Can TransPolyU's Drama Department cause the spontaneous creation of new timelines, through the scientific application of bad acting?
And what is the secret of the Hidden Castle?
These questions and more might (but probably won't) be answered in Girl Genius: Agatha Heterodyne and the Perfect Construct!

This four-hour LARP was originally run (twice) at Intercon G, and was a fine romp. Next year, as part of Anna and Becky's fundraising for the Komen 3-Day Walk, we will be re-running it. The game will take place on Sunday May 6th at Camelot. The game is for 27 players (tentatively, pending rewrites); we hope to do two runs.

We'll be talking it up steadily in the coming months, but I encourage folks to put it on their calendars, and sign up as soon as you are able, at http://arbradley.net/collectInfo.html. Casting will begin in a few months, with an eye towards giving those who are interested a couple of months for costuming.

Spread the word, and hope to see you there...
jducoeur: (Default)
What is the sound of a Jaegermonster launched to America by electric catapult?
How many litter boxes are required by an invading army of cats?
Can TransPolyU's Drama Department cause the spontaneous creation of new timelines, through the scientific application of bad acting?
And what is the secret of the Hidden Castle?
These questions and more might (but probably won't) be answered in Girl Genius: Agatha Heterodyne and the Perfect Construct!

This four-hour LARP was originally run (twice) at Intercon G, and was a fine romp. Next year, as part of Anna and Becky's fundraising for the Komen 3-Day Walk, we will be re-running it. The game will take place on Sunday May 6th at Camelot. The game is for 27 players (tentatively, pending rewrites); we hope to do two runs.

We'll be talking it up steadily in the coming months, but I encourage folks to put it on their calendars, and sign up as soon as you are able, at http://arbradley.net/collectInfo.html. Casting will begin in a few months, with an eye towards giving those who are interested a couple of months for costuming.

Spread the word, and hope to see you there...
jducoeur: (Default)
... we first tossed a gaggle of players down the rabbit hole of an espionage plot they knew nothing about. The idea of starting everyone with amnesia was new and cool at the time (TMA beat us to the punch, but we were the second game in the genre), and we learned a lot -- about LARP in general, and the amnesia mechanic specifically.

One player called me a bastard (in a friendly but chagrined way) when he finally figured out who he was. One figured out far too much about his character a full five seconds into the game, simply from how we had positioned him. One proved to us that you should never, *ever* tell a bunch of LARPers that the door of a locked room is unopenable, because they will spend hours demonstrating to you just how wrong you are.

I was just wandering around my old website, and came across the site for Tabula Rasa 2; that reminded me that Tabula Rasa 1 was held July 12-14th, 1996. So happy anniversary to what is still probably my *favorite* of the games we've written. It was flawed in a host of ways, and quite a learning experience, but man -- it was one heck of a lot of fun to write and run.

(And yes, [livejournal.com profile] hungrytiger and I need to get cracking on TR3. Unfortunately, it's at the heavy-lifting stage now. It's probably designed enough to get started: now we "just" have to write it...)
jducoeur: (Default)
... we first tossed a gaggle of players down the rabbit hole of an espionage plot they knew nothing about. The idea of starting everyone with amnesia was new and cool at the time (TMA beat us to the punch, but we were the second game in the genre), and we learned a lot -- about LARP in general, and the amnesia mechanic specifically.

One player called me a bastard (in a friendly but chagrined way) when he finally figured out who he was. One figured out far too much about his character a full five seconds into the game, simply from how we had positioned him. One proved to us that you should never, *ever* tell a bunch of LARPers that the door of a locked room is unopenable, because they will spend hours demonstrating to you just how wrong you are.

I was just wandering around my old website, and came across the site for Tabula Rasa 2; that reminded me that Tabula Rasa 1 was held July 12-14th, 1996. So happy anniversary to what is still probably my *favorite* of the games we've written. It was flawed in a host of ways, and quite a learning experience, but man -- it was one heck of a lot of fun to write and run.

(And yes, [livejournal.com profile] hungrytiger and I need to get cracking on TR3. Unfortunately, it's at the heavy-lifting stage now. It's probably designed enough to get started: now we "just" have to write it...)
jducoeur: (Default)
... to drive home that I really need to learn how to edit. Most of these character sheets are solid, and I'm pleased to note that the writing mostly holds up, but *boy* are some of them long. It's going to take a month just to read myself back into my own game, assuming we do wind up re-running it...
jducoeur: (Default)
... to drive home that I really need to learn how to edit. Most of these character sheets are solid, and I'm pleased to note that the writing mostly holds up, but *boy* are some of them long. It's going to take a month just to read myself back into my own game, assuming we do wind up re-running it...
jducoeur: (Default)
I tell every GM that what I want is *extreme* characters. With a relatively normal character, I have a bad habit of winding up playing -- well, mostly myself. It's horribly easy to play myself, and it's not nearly so interesting. I need something that's really very *different* from myself if I'm going to crack through my shell and truly play the character instead. It can be anything from the annoying tight-assed puritan to the looney tune, so long as it is not in the least bit moderate.

I finally got around to reading my character sheet for Lifeline. Oh... my... god. Now *these* are GMs who listen. I have absolutely no clue what's going to happen, but this is a character that can only be played by climbing into his skin and totally letting loose. It looks likely to be crazy fun.

(Well, actually, it's impossible to turn off my GM brain: at the metagame level, reading between the lines of this sheet, I have a *very* strong suspicion of roughly what's going to happen here. But the nice thing about a character like this is that he can usually shout down the GM brain and just get into it.)

ETA: Ah -- wow, reading the bluesheets totally changes this character sheet. But it should still be a delicious character to play...
jducoeur: (Default)
I tell every GM that what I want is *extreme* characters. With a relatively normal character, I have a bad habit of winding up playing -- well, mostly myself. It's horribly easy to play myself, and it's not nearly so interesting. I need something that's really very *different* from myself if I'm going to crack through my shell and truly play the character instead. It can be anything from the annoying tight-assed puritan to the looney tune, so long as it is not in the least bit moderate.

I finally got around to reading my character sheet for Lifeline. Oh... my... god. Now *these* are GMs who listen. I have absolutely no clue what's going to happen, but this is a character that can only be played by climbing into his skin and totally letting loose. It looks likely to be crazy fun.

(Well, actually, it's impossible to turn off my GM brain: at the metagame level, reading between the lines of this sheet, I have a *very* strong suspicion of roughly what's going to happen here. But the nice thing about a character like this is that he can usually shout down the GM brain and just get into it.)

ETA: Ah -- wow, reading the bluesheets totally changes this character sheet. But it should still be a delicious character to play...
jducoeur: (Default)
Interesting review here from Ars Technica about the upcoming computer game Heavy Rain. The upshot is that they are both intrigued by the game and nervous about its prospects, because it is a real, hardcore roleplaying experience. You aren't playing a marine with a big gun or a barbarian with a sword -- you're playing a realistic person trying to survive and help others survive a genuinely dangerous situation.

Throughout the description, I find echoes of old discussions of what makes a good LARP. This game is something that is rarely if ever seen in computer games, but which is a characteristic often seen in well-regarded LARPs: an RPG that is trying to put you deeply in the shoes of a realistic character, and provoke real angst and pain through it. You have to make real choices, which have profound in-game consequences for yourself *and* those around you.

I'm fascinated by the description. I have less than no time to pick up a new game (and don't currently own a PS3 to play it on to begin with), but I have to say, this is one of the most intriguing-sounding games I've heard about in years. Ars may be right that there simply isn't enough market for this sort of thing, but it sounds to me like a game that a number of my LARP-but-not-computer-gamer friends might actually get into...
jducoeur: (Default)
Interesting review here from Ars Technica about the upcoming computer game Heavy Rain. The upshot is that they are both intrigued by the game and nervous about its prospects, because it is a real, hardcore roleplaying experience. You aren't playing a marine with a big gun or a barbarian with a sword -- you're playing a realistic person trying to survive and help others survive a genuinely dangerous situation.

Throughout the description, I find echoes of old discussions of what makes a good LARP. This game is something that is rarely if ever seen in computer games, but which is a characteristic often seen in well-regarded LARPs: an RPG that is trying to put you deeply in the shoes of a realistic character, and provoke real angst and pain through it. You have to make real choices, which have profound in-game consequences for yourself *and* those around you.

I'm fascinated by the description. I have less than no time to pick up a new game (and don't currently own a PS3 to play it on to begin with), but I have to say, this is one of the most intriguing-sounding games I've heard about in years. Ars may be right that there simply isn't enough market for this sort of thing, but it sounds to me like a game that a number of my LARP-but-not-computer-gamer friends might actually get into...

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