Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Thoughts On My History As A LARP Storyteller

For a short while, I was the Storyteller for the Vampire venue in Adelaide for the Camarilla LARP which is a persistent Live-Action Roleplay group that connects with similar venues all around the world. I burned out super quickly and ended up dropping out of the Camarilla entirely because, in truth, it really wasn't my style of storytelling. It wasn't something I could do very well. I figured that I could still do a decent LARP if there were a few key differences, gathered up a bunch of people I knew, and ran my own LARP outside of the Camarilla.

It worked out really well for a couple years until general player attrition surpassed new players and I ended up with too few characters to sustain their own plots and keep themselves busy; yet the characters I did have were too ill-fitting and different from each other to work out in a tabletop without massive character reconstruction (or making them create new characters).

The Troupe LARP I ran was almost an inverse of the Camarilla one, though both were in Vampire: the Requiem.

In Troupe, it was a largely PvE (Player versus Enemy) game with some PvP elements (Player versus Player) while in the Camarilla the opposite is true. Troupe had only 10 - 15 players while the Camarilla had 25 - 35.

Also in Troupe, most of the players weren't interested in PvP and all of the players knew this. Some of them actively loathed PvP. Those who did enjoy it generally targeted other PvPers (a core group of around 4 - 5 players) and applied a lighter touch to the other characters. Don't get me wrong. The only character deaths were by other characters' hands, but for most of them it didn't come up and they didn't want it to come up.

Most of the elements of a PvP game - betrayals, insults, undermining eachother, attacking resources, and mocking each other's efforts - very much took a back seat to a more PvE approach of constructing alliances, gentle mocking, and attempting to solve plots in a way that utilises everyone's skills. People tried to come up with ways for their characters (or other people's characters) to get involved and regular and open discussions were held over the forums or in person during the sessions. Some plots were kept secret and some enemies were even assisted against the court but most people were happy to help with most of the plots.

This created a very different sort of game where there still were shifting alliances, covenant and clan ties, and attempts to grab positions (hell, praxis changed hands four times); but the focus was on more of an occult investigation game where weird things kept happening and they had to deal with it. I also plugged a lot of holes in the covenants and clans with 'enabler' NPCs who would have their own ambitions and goals and who would provide a bit of extra drama when sessions grew quiet.  Oftentimes (though not always) the NPCs were a bit more ruthless than the PCs.

While it was immensely fun, it was also a lot of work. I ended up with 15 NPCs, each with their own costume, mannerisms, and goals. I posted regularly as each one in the forums, tried to goad various characters with them, cement or test alliances, and basically play half the court in a way that would keep the players in the limelight where they belonged but still give them plenty to do.  This was a particularly heavyduty way of going about it though I did still enjoy it.

So yes, this isn't a dig at the Camarilla (they've had a name change as their organisation has become more independent but I can't remember it's new name) as there is plenty of really good things you can do in that game.  Not to mention the fact that hard-core PvP is quite fitting in a vampire game.  I'm just giving a bit of background information on my choices and the vampire troupe game I ended up running.

Any of you lot ever tried your hand at running a LARP?

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