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Friday night at Intercon I ran my most recent game, Brockhurst, a Downton Abbey-inspired larp that ties into my greater Breaking History universe written in collaboration with Bernie. I was a bit nervous, due to some weird issues the first run had at last year's Festival. There were some problems with power dynamics, and certain players had a hard time getting into their characters. There was some indication that it was out-of-game stuff affecting it, or bad casting matches, rather than nececessary fatal design flaws with those parts of the game, but you can't be sure with only one run. So after some thought, I decided I wasn't going to edit the game in any substantial way, in order to have another data point for assessing what needs work.

I'm glad to say I think things went really well, certainly better than the first. I even think we may have achieved a full cast that had fun, even if maybe not everybody loving every minute. Certainly nobody brought any problems to me, though certain plots went better or worse than they did last time. The villain roles were yet again cast with very clever people, who damn near ate the whole game, but not to the point where their opposites felt like they had no agency. bronzite was also a huge help. I shouldn't have been surprised, as Bernie told me it was like this when he ran it last time, but he ended up occupied with manning the telegram message-sending system pretty much the entire time. He did a great job with it, and it was a big weight off of me to know that it was being handled so well.

I made two small tweaks to the way I ran things, both of which were suggested by previous players, and I think they helped. First, I made an announcement at the end of briefing that even though everybody is roleplaying bosses and servants, people should not abuse that power dynamic. Nobody has the right to boss anybody else around, and nobody has to take orders they don't want to take. We're here to have fun, so don't be a jerk. I think it helped, as it didn't seem to ever be a problem. The other thing was I had the dancing happen first. I was told it might help mix the players who might otherwise might not find reason to blend. Again, I think it helped, maybe even with keeping the upstairs and downstairs people on a more equal footing as the tone of the Servant's Ball dictates.

The game needs a little editing, but not nearly as much as I was worried it might. There are still a handful of character who could probably use a little more. No character is thin, in my opinion, but it's such a high-plot game that some characters a bit light by comparison. So I could use maybe an extra plot or two. Also, I think I need to make some evidence of the various mysteries that cannot be destroyed. A consistent problem is that when the villains are clever, they can fairly easily conceal all signs of their misdeeds such that the characters on their trail will never get a hold of them. Not exactly sure how to do that, but it's a direction for the edit. Maybe I'll be able to get that done in time for the Festival run. At any rate, I was really pleased by how happy the players seemed to be, which made me feel more secure in the game.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 19th, 2015 06:29 pm (UTC)
Nobody has the right to boss anybody else around, and nobody has to take orders they don't want to take.

Suggestion: you might want to write this into the game materials, "in persona" as it were. I mean, in the period you're talking about, this is more or less literally true -- consider how important the plots about losing servants are becoming in Downton these days. At this time, there are too many positions chasing too few willing servants, and the good ones are getting to be like talented software engineers in the modern day, with everybody wanting them.

So it may be worth outlining that "servant" does not mean "slave", and that if you're an ass to the folks downstairs, they might up and leave -- and worse, hurt your reputation in doing so. Those are serious consequences...
Mar. 19th, 2015 07:48 pm (UTC)
Yep, it's in the rules now too. But I really like your suggestion of making it diegetic by mentioning how difficult it is to find/keep good servants, to kind of make an in-universe reason to balance the power!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

About Me

My name is Phoebe. I'm Boston area theater professional and English professor focused in writing, acting, directing, and modeling. I'm known for having lots of interests, lots of opinions about those interests, and a very high estimation of the value thereof. This blog is for talking about whatever's on my mind, from my daily life to my activities to musing on any number of abstract topics. Thanks for taking the time to read.

My productions:

Upcoming Productions:

MRS. HAWKING part 2 and 3

at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016

presented by The Chameleon's Dish

Vivat Regina
by Phoebe Roberts

at 2PM


Base Instruments
by Phoebe Roberts

at 6PM

Saturday, May 13th 2017
at 274 Moody Street, Waltham, MA

Other Achievements:

"The Tailor at Loring's End" screenplay
Quarter Finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition 2013

"Adonis" screenplay
Top Ten Percent in the Bluecat Screenwriting Contest 2015

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April 2017

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