Adventure books

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  1. H, great post, got me thinking. I’ll put a long reply up on my blog to Mary’s initial question – would be much easier if I could quote you – so put down the fear and go public!
    In terms of what you have said, I think the crucial thing about storytelling around games is that (other than for the organisers benefit) it doesn’t need to be recorded or curated.
    Guess I need to sign up to Quora too, and ‘become part of the debate’ as they say. Hope it is more grown up than Rule 7!

  2. Go on, quote then…

    I’m agreed storytelling doesn’t _need_ to be recorded/curated. However, as a player, I _like_ reading stories of games, but I _prefer_ reading good ones.

    I don’t know about the moderation policy on Quora – but I do know that I intend to to be brutal here. If comments aren’t polite, I won’t approve them.

  3. Was it really 2006? Good grief.. I was talking to a couple of peeps about the Grand this weekend and saying how it was something of an epiphany moment for me as a roleplayer.

    There was a moment where I was given a choice, and as a player I feel it was a “True Choice”. Does my character extinguish his own existence to allow something greater back into the world – knowing that this is what was intended as his destiny, or does he stick two fingers up at history and keep his identity intact?

    My moment came when I realised that to do the latter – whilst entirely reasonable from the pov of the character – didn’t enhance the story being played out. But doing the former created lots of play for lots of people. I didn’t sacrifice my character concept for the sake of having fun, I chose to make other peoples game more fun by grabbing an opportunity.

    Thankfully it was made clear to me that either decision was cool with the writers, but I’m glad I realised that one path made game for others which the other didn’t necessarily do.

  4. We built this arena on Ruck & Roll?

    I find Emos are really easy to deal with, as if you leave them alone they’ll mostly make their own entertainment. The hard bit is when some stunt displays their cupidity and cuts them down for not doing it right.

    1. Well, yes. Absolutely. Somewhere where hard PvP was focussed in one place, with clear game effects and no-one had to trip over a guy-rope. (I should be ashamed of myself for the name, I guess… )

      I think you’re right about emos. They will make their own game, but I’m interested in how one might help them. I’m got a post in draft called “Raking the sandbox” about helping people make game, because at a fest-scale event they really have to. I’ll probably never finish it, mind.

      There is a real danger with stunts that they’ll go outside the designer’s vision for the game in a way which might not be helpful – I know I’ve done that two or three times, and there’s probably more… But I am fond of them – partly because they remind me of me, and partly because when they do get in line with a vision, they make marvellous things happen. Not necessarily “stories”, but “happenings”. The Dauphin’s pavillion at the first Maelstrom with it’s 2 double bedrooms and 14-seater banqueting table.. That kind of thing.

  5. As a matter of interest, how far in advance did you plot out your branches? Mild experimentation suggests strongly that you should never to more than “sketch in” the details of the various branches, for fear of a) wasted effort frustration and b) preferring one branch over the other.

  6. One event, I think? I don’t think we were much more granular than “Where’s the next event and who’s the principal antagonist?”

  7. It strikes me, on reflection, that I personally am happy being th centre of a story because everyone knows the group I’m in, rather than my character specifically. Now, that’s a more scalable solution for fest larp. It’s easier to manage, too…

  8. I think it was implemented very well. Even though I played a philosopher I never felt pigeon holed or limited in what I could do.

    If I needed to talk to a god, I’d go find a priest to ask as an intermediary.

    I even got into a philosopher knife fight at one point 😉

    “I’ll show YOU an oxymoron, you existential bastard!” *stab*

  9. Time based activities. Yeah. At Carum, everything which usually takes an amount of time has been set to 10 minutes – arguably a long time in larp, but it covers all item creation, rituals, even learning skills. It’s simple, and it sort of says “you have to settle down somewhere to do this”, but it doesn’t ruin your entire afternoon.

    I’ll not bore you to tears with the details, but all of these 10 minute activities are set up with inputs and outputs, each one of which is a meaningful interaction, so each time you want to do something, it has a place in a large network of interactions.

    There were issues with the pacing of the first event, which had some linear elements, and some non-linear, and a bit of a gap between them, which emerged at lunchtime on Saturday, but by the evening, the players were literally sending our NPCs away because they were too busy working with each other.

  10. The whole event looks absolutely epic. The price (£250) might seem steep, but judging by the effort put in by yourself and the rest of the ‘staff’ I’d say it was a bargain!

    1. I reckon the catering would come in at £3000-£4000 at professional rates, and it was pretty close to good enough for that. Better in places, because we didn’t skimp on quality of ingredients.

  11. If we’re asked to do a similar period again, with a similar kitchen, we are not bottling on the Eggs Benedict.

  12. What about ‘Crafters’ – People who enjoy making kit, props, trinkets, sets etc.
    and ‘Peacocks’ – The enjoyment of shiny new kit, prosthetics, accessories etc.

  13. I’m not actually entirely certain what you mean by club games, intense interactives, and fest LRPs. Are these more like theater/parlor LARPs? A few questions — what makes them close to sports than role playing games? And if lots of people using the word “LRP” to include them, aren’t the more sports-like activities the odd one out? Isn’t the definition then “activities which share these common attributes”?

    1. Oh, the dangers of sharing with a vocabulary that isn’t as shared as you assumed!

      These are UK-specific terms, I guess.

      club games – run often, weekly/monthly, with “a few” player characters per event, out of a club population of dozens, usually in a single persistent world, significant interactions generally involve NPCs, usually feature more complex rulesets, usually run live-combat “adventures” perhaps backed-up with lower combat “tavern nights”, which are in experience more like parlor LARPs.

      intense interactives – run more sparingly, perhaps in uniquely designed worlds, significant interactions generally do not involve NPCs, usually feature less complex rulesets, usually with less or even no combat, and in experience are more like I understand theatre/parlor LARPs to be.

      fest LRPs – run periodically, with “hundreds of” player characters per event, significant interactions generally do not involve NPCs, usually feature less complex rulesets, usually run large live-combat “encounters”, and are in experience are a bit like several parlor LARPs at the same time, in the same place.

      All of them are role-playing games. (*)

      The thing I agreed with in Andy’s original notion, was that _actually_ the term role-playing game isn’t terribly helpful as a means of description, as a means of informing the prospective player what they are to expect. The activities they-the-player will be engaged in in those very different types of events are _so_ different, that the shared element of roleplaying is rather small. Even in attempting to define my terms, I used a good handful of variables.

      So, I could sign up to a fest larp, expecting the “role-playing game” I am used to at my club event, and be extremely disappointed at the lack of action, the lack of specific focus on me, the lack of organiser-delivered activity per unit time spent in the world etc. I would be at a role-playing event.

      Or, I could sign up to a club event, expecting something based primarily around my experience of a fest LRP, or an intense interactive, or.. or… or…

      If I had to tell people what to expect, I’d probably not use the descriptor at all, I might start with…

      It is a club game – you will be running around in a wood, hitting orcs…

      It is a intense interactive – it’s like being in a stage drama with no audience…

      It is a fest LRP – imagine you’re a character in a big soap opera or mini-series…

      It’s not that individual LRP styles are more or less like sports – although they are. It’s that “roleplaying game” isn’t a very good word to describe what you actually do at them.

      Different styles of LRP may all be role-playing games, but actually –

      They have as much in common as tennis and football, as opposed to – say – cricket and baseball, let alone basketball and netball.

      Or, tl;dr “Boffer and theatre style larps are so different that calling them both role-playing games is as informative as describing both baseball and football as ball games.” How’s that?

      (* At least in that all of them have people pretending to be other people: although there’s nothing I guess _inherent_ to that, and any of those games _might be_ based in alternate worlds where the person you are pretending to be is “you-in-that-world.”… That’s another post. At least one more.)

      (And thank you very much for commenting. I enjoyed trying to untangle my thoughts a bit.)

  14. Very interesting! Someday I’d like to try all of these styles.

    I agree that the term “roleplaying game” is a very broad term — typically, when I hear “roleplaying game” by itself, I assume people are talking about tabletop RPGs of the D&D variety. LARP (or LRP) would be a subset of RPGs, but also an extremely broad term. Just like “sport” is a very broad term, and if someone says “let’s play a sport” that doesn’t tell you much about the experience you’ll be having (tennis? baseball? football? bowling?), saying “let’s play a LARP” also leaves open a broad spectrum of possible experiences.

    I think I misunderstood your original post to mean “therefore let’s not say they all count as LARPs” but now I think what you mean is, “let’s use more specific terminology more often so people can have more productive conversations and make better informed choices.” Which makes sense to me!

    (I would actually say that pretending to be someone other than yourself is inherently a part of LARP — if you’re simply you-in-that-world then it’s an ARG — alternate reality game — but even that isn’t a binary thing. There’s a spectrum between playing yourself and playing someone else. For example, in a zombie game, I was playing an altered version of myself, one who became a journalist. Is that a LARP or an ARG or both or neither or somewhere in the gray space in between?)

  15. That last comment of yours really resonates – in fact, it’s very similar to where the debate got to over on Facebook.

    There’s no binaries here, really It’s all shades of grey.

    Other adjacent experiences too – say, for example – or Secret Cinema ––the-empire-strikes-back/secret-cinema/ – in neither do you have to roleplay being someone else, but you can.

  16. So, in summary “We fixed it, here we go!”

    Unfortunately, this not a true statement about your events and this undermines your excellent work. Profound Decisions and its events do an awful lot to promote gender equality, but these things are not and never will be anything but a long road and a developing process for any event organiser in any hobby.

    Your article doesn’t discuss in detail equality of race, disability, sexuality, class, economics or a number of other things which the title claims to encapsulate. Intersectional Feminism is worth looking up.

    Profound Decisions are much better than the majority of games in in the UK in attempting to promote equality, equity and diversity, but any assertion that this is “fixed” is fundamentally wrong as it encourages another plateau.
    Your claim to having a “robust complaints procedure” is also problematic. Surely, the best people to judge this are those who have had to use it with legitimate issues? Having one of the senior team of your event plant a flag instead is problematic at best. It certainly confirms that you are pushing an agenda.

    The truth of the matter is, like any other event organising company, Profound Decisions are trying to learn from their mistakes, or at least I would hope they are. Certainly, there has been improvement in policies and the implementation of these policies in given situations over time, as people are able to apply experience to the circumstances and situations they face. I think its important you acknowledge that, rather than claim ground you can’t hold.

    1. Logical Argument Checking….

      ‘So, in summary “We fixed it, here we go!” ‘

      Hasty Generalisation, second paragraph exists on the foundation of this. No evidence backing argument. At no point does the article claim to be a straight fix, a golden bullet that deals with all issues in one fell swoop – though it is open to such interpretation should a reader go looking for it. Had you asked for a clarification, one could have likely been given by the original author.

      ‘Your article doesn’t discuss in detail equality of race, disability, sexuality, class, economics or a number of other things which the title claims to encapsulate. Intersectional Feminism is worth looking up.’

      Disclaimer in fourth paragraph of article. It would have been better to point out where dealing with equality of race, sexuality, class, economics etc.. differs with the gender issues discussed in the article. Argument in current state can be construed as a Red Herring at worst, whilst it also could be considered Begging the Claim in conjunction with the opening Hasty Generalisation.

      ‘Profound Decisions are much better … It certainly confirms that you are pushing an agenda.’

      Again, argument based on opening Hasty Generalisation. Second to last line tantamount to an Ad Hominem attack – attempting to undermine the original statement based on the position of the person stating it. Better argument would have been to cite cases or situations where the original claim does not stand up to scrutiny.

      ‘The truth of the matter is, like any other event organising company, Profound Decisions are trying to learn from their mistakes, or at least I would hope they are. … I think its important you acknowledge that, rather than claim ground you can’t hold.’

      Closing statement contradictory – claim of the truth is immediately done down by casting aspersions on that statements own validity followed by a supporting statement of the original line. Final closer is based on the original Hasty Generalisation.

      Conclusion: You had some interesting things to say, but set them on a poor foundation. Following arguments could have been better reasoned and used better supporting evidence. Worst offence was the Ad Hominem attack. A robust opening argument would have held up your following arguments. Consider your opener more carefully in future.

      1. Anonymous but correct PD apologist by my reading.

        * You’ve (Allen) attacked a claim he hasn’t made or implied (that PD have ‘fixed’ the problem).

        * You’ve claimed the post hasn’t addressed a load of things, where the Andy specifically says that he things his specific advice applies mutatis mutandis to other sorts of cases.

        * You’ve claimed that a complaints procedure can only properly judged by people who have a legitimate complaint. But you don’t tell us how one is to tell if a complaint is legitimate in the absence of a procedure to determine if a complaint is legitimate.

        Honestly, I can’t help but think that setting up a straw man to attack suggests you might be ‘pushing an agenda’, which I gather is ‘problematic’ or some such vacuous nonsense.

  17. Oh just for reference you can read Empire’s rules on Equality and Diversity, Language and their Conduct policies here:

    They’re covered under a Creative Commons Share Alike license ( like all the text on that wiki. So if you want to use them to base your games policies on you’re fine to do so.

  18. That sound rather fun. In it’s own context. I’ve played much smaller ‘players make the rules’ games that have worked really well (because the group were all good players and know about Rule 7). I wonder what the critical group size is for there to be definitely one ‘bad egg’ player.

    I shouldn’t be *that* hard to come up with some magical dueling rules? But in a game that sounds like it has no rules that might be tricky…

  19. Yeah, there _was_ a rule for dueling “No repeating a spell”: but actually in game, you could agree that that was more of a guideline…

    And _actual_ magical dueling ruleset is surprisingly hard to do – I’ve never found one I liked.

    1. I reckon you could get something with spell cards. I play my fazam card, you play counterspell, I empower mine with a flux card, you cancel the flux with a flux nulling flourish. You could give the cards verbal and hand waving components…

      Think munchkin combat where the monster card is a players opening spell. So you’d have spell cards and enhancement cards, Some might even night prop components to use.

      Hell, this stuff writes itself 😉

      1. You see, that sounds like a card game to me, rather than a magical duel…. 🙂

  20. This makes for an interesting read, and has flagged up some internal thoughts, so thank you!

    Internal thoughts mostly revolving around where I think I’d like to like this sort of game, but suspect I would not cope with this level of freeform, get mad at someone being a ‘hog’ and ruin it for myself in some fashion.

  21. There’s definitely some hogging, but the setting here at least gives enough structure to hang fun off even if you’re getting hogged. It’s very clever, and I’m racking my brains for a setting where you could do the same.

  22. Reading this from the bottom of the world, just wow. Also, a _brace_ of roasted pineapple! In an age where pineapples were rented as centrepieces, you really were being extravagant.

  23. The food was epic and delicious, the cod ‘French Chef’s’ were hilarious, and the barking at people taken entirely IC. The flaming Devils on Horseback in the drawing room and the drunken midnight sweeties were wonderful.

  24. This makes me deeply nostalgic for Maelstrom downtime and with a terrible desire to run a large system with quasi-freetext downtime like this. Unfortunately I don’t believe anyone else shares my deviant desires in this regard, or at least not combined with sufficient desire and will to actually run a large system with it :).

    1. If I had a sword handy, I’d fall on it.

      Thank you. And Ryan, if you ever see this – I’m so sorry.

  25. if you combine it with the odc stuff you can make it work 🙂 mostly my addition to the process is the V of the ld45 section to cup the soft foam to increase glue area and protect from ripping a bit

  26. I am reminded of an occasion when a player (skilled in the cryptographic arts to well past the average) at Odyssey confronted me at the GOD desk to complain that we were issuing props with ciphers on them that were too hard to break in a field.

    The prop in question, which she waved at me to punctuate her point, was a replica of the Phaistos Disk, with it’s Linear A inscription, which as far as I know remains untranslated to this day. I didn’t have the heart to tell her.

    1. Memory wants to believe I once sent out an RSA-encrypted message with a low bit length key. Which was defeated.

      I think memory is lying to me but I can’t be sure…

  27. Helly Bean of The Quota fame, yes.

    (The title of the post was always Helly. Never Holly. *ahem* ….thank you for picking that up. Now edited.)

  28. That was a wonderful read! I remember seeing posts about this LARP pop up before it ran, but I see now I misunderstood the structure and concept. I hope there will be another run?

  29. I think that is extraordinarily unlikely but I guess never say never.

    I’d have just said “No”, I’d never thought of re-running anything until very recently, but we’re running Wing And A Prayer again so let’s see how that goes.

    There’s another blog post to come about the economics of it, though. The UK seems to be a very expensive place to run larps, and while we came within £200 or so of breaking even… That doesn’t account for any of the time the organisers spent on the event, or the film industry professionals on the crew either. I’m intrigued to see how much we reckon it’d have cost at professional rates. A lot of the folk involved in All For One were professionals in fields pretty close to running larps who worked for nothing but love. Designers, directors, art department folk, writers etc…

    I’m sorry we didn’t get the structure across for this run though. Turns out that’s real hard to do effectively.

    Learning, learning, learning…

  30. Ah. Well, I am very sad to hear it is unlikely to run again, but I will keep my fingers crossed nevertheless (and will be first to sign up if it does.)

    I look forward to the post about the economics of it!

  31. I was a player during nexus infancy and have very fond memories of these events. Was part of a group that set up a rival bar “blue oyster ” a den of villiany. The corp were not a fan.
    Have been trying to find some stuff (photos e.c.t)from them on the i ternet but no luck if you have any that are willing to share that would be awesome.

  32. Recall there’s another “midrange” Caesar Cipher: the Caesar Block transposition. Use a square matrix for greatest ease. Write the msg in a square matrix left to right top to bottom, transcribe it top to bottom,left to right. A giveaway that this is being used is if the number of letters in the msg is a perfect square, the players get really excited cracking one of these. If you want some C implimenting it, email me. Blocks provide haunting word frags brains like to fool with.

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