Tag Archives: roleplaying

Secure Facility 7: The Intranet Prop Main Post

Okay so Room13 had me (often via the medium of my infamously sweary alterego that I created for British Haunts who’s lived on) onboard for another event, in this case Secure Facility Seven and unlike previous events I wasn’t Reffing this one, just being a crew runner on the day and making a single big prop (or kinda facilitating it) of a computer system for the players to interact with as an intranet for the underground bunker they found themselves in.  I’ve broken up my writing about this into several shorter more manageable posts:

  1. The Intranet CMS: Underlying everything was the base intranet site that gave them useful information
  2. Central Control Room: The control room had a panel counting down to the end of the game and displaying various bits of information (who was trying to open the door for one)
  3. Door Control: A small handful of pages that integrated with the CMS and control room to grant access to the doors in-character by needing two correct codes entered within a time frame.
  4. The Hacking System: Which allowed a character with the right skill to break into accounts and get their passwords, simulated here by some technobabble and sudoku :)  It was designed to be an alternative method to guessing passwords from clues in the environment and also to spur on roleplaying by use of looking kinda stereotypical.
  5. What Did We Learn: A short post about 5 useful things I think I learnt from helping make this system and seeing how the players interacted with it on the day.

For anyone who’s interested the relevant bits of little twiddly code is up here, some of it is extremely rough (I’m not even kidding, a lot of this is first draft good enough on the day kind of code) but built with a purpose:  secure-facility-7-code.tar.bz2

Also I can’t recommend hosting your own stuff enough if you’ve the skills, the ability to have raw access to files and databases,as well as do tricks like bulk email redirects for setting up accounts for NPCs is invaluable.

Feed back and questions are as ever welcome :)

Delayed Games means delayed squee

Yeah so basically I was expecting to be writing more about things I’d been preparing for the upcoming Room 13 game Secure Facility Seven at the minute but … yeah, well due to the epic weather that descended upon Lancaster that kind of fell by the wayside.

It was probably an interesting time to use the phrase.  The centre of town took water levels pretty high, and a lot of Cumbria got pretty badly devastated, a lot of us were without power for a while, and even the phone network was down for parts of it, but it was heartening to see locals pulling together to check in on each other and keep supplies and news flowing by landline, by snatches of internet, by biking, driving, and walking to each others houses to hang out and chat.

Roleplaying Games

So there were two awesome roleplaying games being run this weekend, one of which I was near enough to hear: WIIIITTTTNEEEESSS – the game of theological debate in the form of Mad Max, which was run by Weasel and seemed to feature epic quantities of post apocalyptic death cults.

The other was Mish’s JDT game featuring post rapture animal care charity workers, I wasn’t so close to this one but me and Lee heard it going on, because we were curled up in chairs reading when suddenly there was wolf howling coming out of the room :)

Show me the original face of your roleplaying game, before it was written

So today I was talking to Weasel about an idea he has for running a game, its taking what he considers the essential ideas and mechanics behind a system (in this case Unknown Armies), distilling them out, and fitting them to a new system and new background to shake new life into the old ideas.

It sounds kind of interesting, but got me thinking about things.  Like for example what is the original concepts and drives and flavours behind stuff like R. Talsorians Cyberpunk 2020 (dystopia, what is humanity with tech , style before substance – maybe something else but these seem core) and what is the setting (Urban) and who are the factions that really matter (corps, edgerunners, – I kind of want to say criminals perhaps?  Or futurist-techno-types?  I always liked putting in the downtrodden and oppressed as contrast, but they’re not really core they’re flavour and background).  So ask yourself, if you wanted to start with a clean sheet and run a game based on those flavours, that setting, those factions would it matter that none of it was in Night City?  Would it matter that no one mentioned the Blood Razors?  That Arasaka weren’t there?

I doubt it, it may be fun to try and shake it up and see what comes out.

Running games and politics

So I was rambling recently to Jazz about politics and was talking about my politics (lefty socialist with anarchist tendencies) and then I sort of drifted sideways into talking about organising LARPs and actually they kind of tick my boxes in politics.

No really let me explain.  I totally love running LARPs because it involves organising into a group voluntarily, you maybe have a hierarchy within the group but its volunteered and agreed.  You delegate jobs out to people that they agree too, you can leave the group at any time that your sense of honour dictates you can (or should).

And you come together to create a work of art, an event, a thing that influences and gives people feelings, then you shake hands, part ways – perhaps to work together later, but perhaps not.

Much awoo about nothing

Okay the title only makes sense when you know the running gag that werewolves make a noise written just as “awoo” and pretty much anything they do can be referred to as awoo :)

So yeah I was running for the Freshers One Shots today, although I hoovered up a bunch of oldbies, but I was running OWoD (as its known) Werewolf The Apocalypse, which was truth be told pretty kick ass.  The pitch was basically that the Garou of the UK had worked out that the only way to actually deal with this whole apocalypse thing was to stop being grouchy rustics and ill educated malcontents and instead press forward by educating the young pups and seeing if they could come up with a solution to problems. Continue reading

Monsieur et Madame de Carcosa

So this weekend I was part of the epic horror LARP of Lords & Ladies (Shunned House) which was all kinds of interesting, and so as usual I’m actually going to write at least a short blog piece about it.  Now originally I wasn’t going to be involved with this and was going to have like the world’s quietest weekend with everyone away, most of them LARPing my plan was to basically nest in bed with a pile of books and music, it was going to be awesome.

However a few weeks back I got approached with the offer of would I like to come NPC as they wanted a housekeeper NPC to basically do some light maid duties to make sure those didn’t eat up valuable Ref time (and avoid the magically appearing food problem) and kick start like one major plot point (alerting the players to Genevieve’s suicide).  Initially I was a bit torn between a quiet weekend in a run of busy ones, or going along for the fun, and I have to say that when I had the game pitched to me by two of the Refs the pitch was strong enough that I was like “sign me up right now”, it was a game I really wanted to see how it played out.

And I think it pretty much delivered on the Ref’s vision.  I quite liked the starkness of it all, the bleak and almost inevitable slide, into what the maid Helene Defour eventually characterised as actually being in hell, caused by what she thought of as wicked children meddling decadently in things they didn’t understand (I had a whole fantastic break down screaming speech kinda planned, but in the end her going numb and more and more broken seemed appropriate and I didn’t want to shoe horn in something that needed to feel genuine and responsive to the situation).

In structure the game was a pretty simple, pretty classic Big House Mythos LARP – and I frankly love those done right, it had that sense of the right time, the right people, the right atmosphere that gave everything a sort of lovely view of one version of the past, tinged by the kind of human doom, that meddling, that then leads people into the sight of strange events, in this case the sight of the King and Carcosa.  We had various well crafted relationships, lots of time for interpersonal relations, scheming between players, and a gentle slow build before things started getting weird in a heavy and hard to deny fashion.  I agree a little with some of the criticism of timing (perhaps the Revellers should have come earlier and stayed less time, perhaps the Byakhee should have come a little later) but I liked how events flowed into each other – for example there was already jazz swing dancing going on when the Revellers arrived to add their desperate horror to it :)  There was also some wonderful moments between PCs I was witness too (and tried to get the fuck out of the way for mostly) – Laurence talking to Harriet who was trying to convince him to go upstairs to Genevieve and him pleading not too as it was too emotionally hard (despite being a resident of Carcosa and having seen the future of the atrocities of humanity, he still couldn’t quite face everything he had done to his family), the plotting to get Harriet and Arthur married, Bertie and Milli’s scheming, Marie-Clare just utterly breaking after Charlie’s descent into madness and death from her start point of romantic scheming, Peter getting increasingly staunchly British while Dephine got increasingly bitchy, Sylvester desperately seeking to thumb his nose at something as powerful as the King even at the risk of all kinds of horror, and of course Amos’s fixed rictus grin as he tried taking on all the family trauma (sisters death, betrayal by his brother, sham marriage being openly broken down, faced with an eternity of despair and his reaction to just say fuck it and just give it a shot and be the damn host).

So yeah, needless to say I had a good time, I was lightly directed for what to do and mostly left to my own devices with a few guiding principals (being a polite, reserved, character who keeps in the background and has a professional/class based distance from her employers and guests, but occasionally managing to sneak in a little comment or smile or something to connect with people) so I had fun just sort of making things up and rolling with how players wanted to interact with me, I removed myself from a couple of earlier situations where I could have confirmed that the play had already been performed (kinda – I mean I wasn’t there) so as to keep the plot shape going in what I thought was the right direction, and I knew I was going to kill myself Saturday night so I had to time my eventual breakdown for then, so started degrading heavily from Laurence and Genevieve’s return from the dead (the suicide was already a shocker, and the Watcher figure over dinner didn’t help), but before then I had such fun being almost involved in the Harriet romance plot, of being scandalised by Charlie and the ladies, of many interactions with Harriet and Genevieve and getting the household roleplaying going :)

There were also achievements that the game managed to get a number of jump scares on me as an NPC, the dinnertime Watcher, the noise and suddenness of the Byakhee, and also Peter walking about in his theatre mask all shocked me, although I generally prefer getting shocked as an NPC, I think a lot of my barriers to shock and horror have gotten taken away the past few years so I’m still building them back up and NPCing is a safer space to do that in as I’m prepared and the character is not mine to build attachment too, but merely me acting as an extension of the plot and asking “what good does this action do to further the game for the players?”.

Anyway, the criticisms I have for the event are few, and I should probably list them somewhere, they’re mostly little things as I think the game did so much more right than it did wrong.  As an NPC I was kinda okay rolling through things without some stats (I mean my sanity was plot-dependant and nominal) but I could have done with some strength, and mostly I needed a printed copy of the briefing/character sheet I’d been emailed as I ended up having to quickly note things down off my phone into my notepad.  Likewise above points to consider with timings, I’m not sure either way.  The walk outside seemed to need a bit better planning (suggesting that outside and weather are things to pack for, also if the Refs had mentioned it and we’d checked the weather forecast I could have brought like half a dozen umbrellas), the tides impacted it and that should have been checked, the post event tidy up also needed some better structure (more teams on washing up detail, more collection/organisation/packing of props and kit, more lists of what went where, etc.etc.) but these are things that the Ref team I think will get better at in time.

Special super win however needs to go to the kitchen situation, which is mostly what I was involved in.  I got to serve out well cooked food that was done on time without fuss, the Ref doing the food was in control of the kitchen, and while I helped keep on top of the cleaning and organising when there was a rush on other refs and crew got easily recruited to fill in and keep stuff going when it needed a quick wash between courses.  This all meant I could be out dealing with serving at the table and keeping the guests happy which kept dinner times smooth and generated a certain atmosphere of class, the only suggestion I’d give is for the kitchen Ref to occasionally come out and survey the great reactions their creations got from the table :)

So yeah, I think this has rejuvenated my love of classic Big House early 20th Century Classic Mythos LARPs :)

On terminology: Bleed / Character Hangover

So a while back I read this post: When you designed your LARP for bleed and ended up feeling shit yourself a reaction meme on the excellent When You Organise LARPS site, which includes all kinds of epic humour and observations, some of which requires googling or being in specific subsets of LARP culture.

Anyway, that got me poking about for definitions of “bleed” and I found Nordic LARP wiki on Bleed the definition is swiped from somewhere else but includes great sections like “Bleed is experienced by a player when her thoghts and feelings are influenced by those of her character, or vice versa. With increasing bleed, the border between player and character becomes more and more transparent.” and “Bleed is instrumental for horror role-playing: It is often harder to scare the player through the character than the other way around.” both of which sum up interesting points.

I wonder how much Bleed interacts with the term “Character Hangover” used around the UK LARPers to denote the left over character emotions and reactions that linger after the game or session is over.  I’m not sure if there’s a Nordic LARP term for this, but that thing where you find your brain still half calculating reactions to events and continuations of plans for the character, as I suspect that the more there is bleed the more likely there is to be hangover.

Anyway, musing, nice to have a term for something :)

NFQ – The ECR (Emergency Control Room) Computer Prop

Those of you who were in the ECR at all during the NFQ/Incident ### game may have noticed a black laptop on the west facing wall (that nearest to the directors office) which had some nice green text on a black backdrop that updated itself pretty infuriating slowly :)  That was one of mine, and something I really had some fun putting together, although it was all a bit bodgey internally.  So this is going to be a walk through a download of that anyone thinking of putting together something similar can see some of the weird tricks I used, I’ll also be talking about lessons learnt from the event and things I’d change next time.

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