Monday, 5 January 2015

R&R characters at fest games

At Mandala events our crew get 4 hours sleep a night and have to hot bunk. We do feed them and keep them hydrated and we ask them to do ridiculous stuff. They come back because they enjoy it, and this is what we expect of our crew at Empire. We want people who are committed to crewing because it’s what they enjoy, not people who see it as a way to pay for a free ticket

These are fairly small events (up to 60 players) and we know we’re at the demanding end of this. We do run through the night. We work shifts. We have people queuing up to crew our events. They enjoy crewing our events and we have a very high quality, independent, reliable crew.


These are my views on R&R characters at fest events. 

Fest games require a lot of staff. Profound Decisions (PD) have staff with a wide range of roles from Set up and Take down crew, GOD staff, Gate crew, and Monster Room staff through to their skirmish crew and NPCS.

I have crewed fest events and haven’t really enjoyed it because I was being told to take a break, to go onto the field for a rest etc etc. Getting across to people that when I’m asking for something to do it’s usually because I’m bored took considerably longer than I expected. I think they’re beginning to understand it now. Typically the crew you want are ones for whom crewing is interesting and exciting. Trusting your crew to say when they want to do something quieter is also important, as is having quieter roles there for them when they need them. Taking breaks is fine. Crew do need breaks. Adults should be able to say when they need them and take themselves off to have them.

I have had the same problem at a couple of fest systems, but taking different forms. I’ve been enjoying an active role, volunteered to keep monstering and been assigned a task that involved a lot of standing still with little to no chance to interact with people and as a result finished the session feeling utterly miserable. It’s a different situation. They weren’t asking me to stop because they thought I needed a break, but because they needed someone to stand still for three hours. They put me in a position where choosing to have fun was going to damage the game for other people.

PD has a problem with not having enough NPCs, at least in part due to mismanagement of them in the past. This is being addressed. While it can be said that people were turning me away from an active NPC role when I asked for one because there wasn’t a role available this wasn’t a good thing. Many, many players find that there simply isn’t enough going on at Empire events, and they avoid them as a result. PvP is good, and good NPCs will act as a catalyst for further good PvP encounters.

Part of this could be down to terminology. NPCs tend to be long term embedded roles. Good examples of this at Empire would be egregores. The crew we refer to as the NPC team tend to play multiple shorter roles. If you are expecting to play NPCs over a longer period then when you’re not being used for this then there may be a feeling that you can go and do your own thing when not needed for this. This expectation leaves us without anyone to play the shorter roles. CP uses players for a lot of their monster roles. When faction monsters volunteer they can be used for a variety of roles that include talking, violence, spying etc.

NPCs should absolutely be going onto the field for a drink, but they should be being directed by the plot writers as to what they’re playing and how they’re bringing the greater Empire into Anvil with their drinking. If they want time off they’re welcome to it. However, if they want to go and sell their resources as their own character they should be paying for a ticket. NPC teams need to have control over which characters are on the field when, especially if the character is something that a player couldn’t get to play. NPCs absolutely can be on the field, as long as the person who owns the plot has agreed it.

Playing is a privilege. You earn that privilege by paying to be there. This in part goes back to LRP being collaborative. When Mandala run events people pay to crew. Matt operates on a different model where people have many of their crewing costs covered. The reward for NPCing a game should be getting to NPC. NPCing is something that is fun. Going out there with aims and objectives and information to cause people pain, confusion, joy or whatever is a reward in itself. If you need to take time off from it to go and roleplay you’re being overly entitled. Taking time off to sit around with mates and drink is fine at PD events.

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