Thursday, December 3, 2015

Troubles as a LARP GM at the Nurse Cassandra Sessions

As with all of the Cassandra sessions, I felt like I missed a lot and saw very little.  Part of the problem is that in such a large space whenever I headed over to a small cluster of people, they'd all break conversation and look at me in case I had anything GM-like to say which made me feel less comfortable eavesdropping. 

The volume also left much to be desired, but unfortunately, part of that was just the problem with the audio-visual equipment.  You can click THIS LINK to see more about what I've learned thus far about audio-visual equipment from earlier Cassandra sessions.  Trust me, if you're planning to use it in a LARP you will want to know what to worry about.  Three sessions and I still haven't gotten it quite right!

My text slides were just fine (slightly long time-wise for me but fine for others) and adding sub-titles to the video clips worked out great.  Unfortunately they were all too quiet (the last more than most) compared to the surrounding music so although Nurse Cassandra was meant to arrive before or after them to dispense the Emotion Cards and otherwise be creepy, I had to instead crouch OOC by the volume controls and turn it up once the video clips were going, then let the following song be loud as I did my Cassandra thing post-clip.  Then I had to remember to go over and turn it down.  Now my video editing program does allow me to turn up the volume on certain clips but sitting at home in front of the computer they didn't seem to be all that different.  Always road test your clips at the volume they'll be playing at during the game.

The clips also weren't quite spaced far enough apart, but since we started half an hour late because of a last minute Windows Update that took forever (remember to switch off auto-updates) and the player with the backup laptop had already said they would be late, I was already skipping through some of the blank spaces to condense the recordings to fit.  There were basically five sets of text slides followed by video clips, which was a bit much (I know!) but in truth the number of them seemed a bit fine.  Their duration was okay, too, it was more of a spacing thing.

Of course out of the few players I've polled so far, one player thought the timing was perfect as they'd keep flicking up just as she'd run out of stuff to do, another player thought they were too tightly packed at the beginning and another too tightly packed at the end.  Since they were all roughly as separate as each other, I'd have to say that it's simply a matter of when you have the most to do.  If you're busier at the start, they're intrusive.  If you're busier at the end, they're intrusive.

Thankfully as it's a campaign LARP, it's not a deal breaker, but if this were a one shot I'd really either use fewer or have it something the characters can trigger in small groups as they please, such as if they have access to a laptop that plays it small and they can just turn them on and off as they please.  Probably the latter, so it's not intrusive and people can interact with them at their leisure whenever they've got some downtime or run out of stuff to do.

Anyway, the other problem I had as a GM is that since the players are so spread out, I can only catch snippets of their roleplay and seem to spend so much time simply moving across the space that I just never can pull together a meaningful storyline of any of the characters.  Since I was only called on as a GM about a dozen times in the space of three and a half hours, you'd think I would have witnessed far more than I did.  Luckily my players have made a big point of telling me anecdotes.

So as you'll notice over in the write up at THIS LINK, many of the points are briefly described because I didn't really see them.

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