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Intercon P con report, part II - Pub Crawl

Friday night was the debut run of the newest larp I worked on with natbudin, emp42ress, and twilighttremolo under the banner of Alleged Entertainment. Pub Crawl, as it’s called, takes place on New Year’s Eve in a dying former industrial town as many of its residents celebrate by traveling around the local bars. It’s supposed to be an exploration of new beginnings and possibilities for the future centered around an interesting mechanical design— it’s made entirely up of horde characters. There is no consistent cast of any kind, instead intended for the players to swap out their horde roles between leaving the previous pub and arriving at the next. I’d never seen a game with only horde characters, so I was interested to see if it would work.

I had an odd experience of this one. Though it seemed out design was functional, as a GM I was not particularly engaged with the game. I had some interest initially in seeing how the characters we wrote would work, but I found it difficult to follow who was who. All roles are designed to be gender neutral and as such are given only last names, but allowing the players choose what to call themselves made it tough to keep track of who they were playing. I usually really love listening in on player conversations, but through no apparent fault of the players, I found myself checking out on them. I had some fun playing a drag queen NPC who was the bartender at the gay club location, but honestly, overall, I was kind of bored.

I’m not exactly sure why. It could just be that, as a modern, mundane-setting, low-stakes game with no consistent characters to follow, it just didn’t spark my interest. That tends not to be my cup of tea; I probably would not sign up to play a game like this if I saw it on a con schedule. But I’m concerned the failure is on our end, in the writing of it. The players cycled through the characters a LOT faster than we anticipated, which indicates to me that they were too thin, not substantial enough to sustain playing them longer than one pub. I know a number of players had fun with the game, but I think others probably were bored, or at least not really getting the experience they hoped for. I am one of them, unfortunately.

I’m not sure how to approach editing something like that. We may need to poll more players to figure out what the problem is. It might be possible to fix up and improve, but at the moment I can’t really put my finger on the issue with it.

Posts from This Journal by “intercon” Tag


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 26th, 2016 04:37 am (UTC)
It sounds to me like an interesting failure (we've had a few of these. One turned into a good game--eventually), at least for you.

The real challenge to an all horde (i.e. disposable characters, effectively) game is to still have a story get created. Normally, each PC is their own story and their own protagonist, but while that can be true in a serial way in an all horde game, it can't be true overall, since no character is expected to last throughout the game. So something else needs to carry the story forward and unify the game for it to be satisfying, I think.

It could, of course, be recurring horde characters. If some or many of the players have recurring horde characters that leave, only to return again in one form or another, this can allow a progression that holds people's interest, while still feeling like an "all horde" game. (iirc, TTRB has at least one of these).

Another approach, of course, is to have the setting tell a story even though no character is present through all of it. The style of escallation used in, say, the Cornetto trilogy (ie, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, World's End) might work well for an all horde game, letting the game escalate and go through a story even though individual characters don't walk the whole road.

Of course, if Bar Crawl has some or all of these elements and still doesn't work for you (or many of the players), maybe it's just a flavor that isn't for everyone.
Feb. 26th, 2016 07:47 pm (UTC)
As one of the players, I should be clear here: I *don't* think the game was a failure. IMO, it's a solidly good game that needs some tuning in order to become a great one.

I'm not surprised that the game was hard to follow from the outside, but from the inside the verisimilitude was surprisingly good -- the experience was a lot like a party-hopping night, bouncing off of some people you know and some you don't. The characters were necessarily a hair thin, but there was enough there for me to get into each of the three I played.

The one thing the game needs is more connections, particularly between waves. Folks were dropping out largely (I believe) because they'd run out of available connections that they already knew. I'd amp the number of connections and plots by about 50%, adding a lot more that are off by 1 to 2 waves, so that the variability works better.

Overall, though, I quite enjoyed it. The lack of Goals Dammit meant that I focused on the internal roleplay instead; the result was one of the more roleplay-intensive games I've had in some while...
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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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.

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