Friday, May 27, 2011

My Second Position

Over on Gothridge Manor, Rusty wrote a great piece on the idea of first and second position. It was very illuminating. I also know where he is coming from because of the years I spent managing live-action roleplaying events.

The basic issues is live-action is well... live. That means you need to have people in certain location at certain times with certain props and the set for the area all properly built. It also means if you don't plan well you find yourself in the middle of the event with your entire staff sleeping. All this means that live-action plot is basically a huge railroad. I ran some great live-action events but many of them would sucked badly as a tabletop session.

I lucked out with my first event in that my plot was heavy on NPC doing things (the roles played by staff) and roleplaying. As long as I didn't wear everybody out I was able to keep the event going at a fun pace.

The experience left me wondering what I hell I am going to do in the future. I was kinda aware of the limitations but didn't know how bad of a railroad live-action plot was until I had to do it myself.

So rather than wind up frustrated and return to being a player, I decided I was going to push on and learn how to run good LARP plot despite the limitations. And for the most part I feel I succeeded.

After the birth of Gregory in 2003 I no longer had the time or energy to run LARP events and tabletop gaming returned to being my primary hobby activity. I found the my LARP experiences really helped my tabletop. It helped my roleplaying (i.e. funny voices :D), being able to describe the action better, and finally made realize that I could make other styles of refereeing as fun as the sandbox game that dominated my pre-larp tabletop refereeing. As Rusty wrote about, I learned to play the second position in refereeing.

For those who are interested, the key techniques that worked for me in LARP events where

  • Schedule staff in groups of five for two to three hour blocks.
  • Pace the activity level so Friday Night estabilshes the plot, Saturday Late Morning, and Early Afternoon build tension, Late Saturday Afternoon has a plot climax. Follow by an early Sat Evening build tension, then a Saturday Late Evening grand finale.
  • Build your event plan to allow the plot to have many paths but one destination. So if something unexpected comes up in Early Saturday Morning, I have stuff prepared to use in Early Afternoon and the subsequent time block that reflect what the players did.
  • Over events of a season try to give each players a plot where they are lead. They won't have something occur every event but over multiple events the story unfolds.
  • Realize between events you have a lot more flexibility to respond to what the players did.
These are a few of the things I did that helped me run fun events. The one most applicable to tabletop is the Many Paths One Destination structure and the pacing. These techniques are vital for running a fun Adventure Path.

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