So following on from my trial for my last blog in the international internet crimes court in Hull here are my thoughts on the E1’s of two events this year.
Up first Empire.
I’m lucky in that I currently get to see both sides of the hedge at Empire. One of the things that immediately stood out wa,s not only how welcoming the back room team are, but also how professional they are. Running plot for the first time for PD made me appreciate the hard work that goes on from the volunteer staff there and how many unsung heroes are working there (and let’s be clear these are volunteers). Initially there were a couple of moments where I felt a bit lost but all in all it was a great experience that left me full of keen. Certainly Dave and Andy (don’t tell them, they have a rep to maintain) really helped me with confidence and quality control respectively and it was nice to work with people who weren’t precious about ‘their thing’ and have a really grown up attitude to . The amount and volume of plot that was going out was also astounding. There was a real feeling that everyone out back was working towards a fun, immersive game, and working bloody hard.
In the field, if you discount the mud and toilets, the game was again up to an amazing standard. Yes some of the builds weren’t finished, but this was a brand new last minute site covered with mudpocalypse and the site did really have good drainage…. (it’s a mantra, whisper it with me as you go to sleep). Now apparently there are new toilets which will fix that, and going into summer there will be less mud (I hope, please god.) and after all this is a last minute temp site, so there is only so much bitching you can do about it. Plus it really does have excellent drainage….
Certainly my highlights were finding out the Children’s council was cross with me (and that’s a thing, the kids have views on political happenings in empire, and I was told they were gunning for me using the institutions of the Empire), a Navarr group getting mugged by peace cultists and making it off the field alive oc after my fun times hyperthermia. Obviously my pet fav will always be the Navarr and how wonderful they all are, but trying to pick out fav bits at Empire is really hard. Hands up I am biased, Empire is one of my Fav systems, to the point where I go out and promote it in my free time at tradeshows and intend to move over to full time crew at the end of the year (and for anyone who knows me, I never do that. I’ll offer to help, but actually joining crew? I have a badly paid full time job already thank you very much.) all of this is because I believe in what Empire is about, putting players in charge of difficult decisions, an asymmetrical pvp game, minimal murder, no bloody gate guarding, inclusive to kids without being a family event, NPCs that are on a par with players and plot that isn’t monster of the week or playing out the world ending card every year. Oh and a working economy with things your average player can spend on (yes it is don’t argue and there is no hyper inflation, just some people are poor and some people are rich, see the bit about an asymmetric game not all people are equal, especially when it comes to social background. if you would put effort into to saying how this is unfair, feel free to fix our rl society first with the same effort.)
Now I do have a friend who spent two hours trying to pay for his ticket as no one was available to take his money which would certainly effect my opinion on returning if it had happened to me, but without belittling something that in that rain and mud was I’m sure every bit as soul destroying as it sounds (cause I’m known for my tolerant attitude to being dicked around), I’m sure that’s an admin issue that will be resolved next time. Certainly PD take constructive feedback seriously.
Another friend, new to empire, of mine summed up Empire the best when he said:
‘It’s not like a traditional Larp, it’s like someone bought a fantasy novel to life without it being clichéd.’
He also went on to talk about how amazing it was in the field, he couldn’t stop talking about how amazing the game was when we went for coffee after (cause I worry when I recommend stuff to people that if they don’t enjoy it, I might have to give a shit.). So in brief, the weather was crap, there was mud up to my knees, the toilets may have caused the World Health organisation actual fear and i almost died from Hypothermia, it was still an amazing event.
If Empire is the Game of Thrones of Larp, then Green Cloaks is the Saturday cartoon of Larp. When i say that I’m talking about the original Thundercats TV, Ulysses or Mysterious cities of Gold. You know the stuff that defined my (and many other old farts in larps) childhood memories. Or as one new player put it ‘It’s just fun’.
Green Cloaks is not perfect, there is no such thing and i could if i wanted poke holes all over the place if I were so inclined, but it is a joy. You know? Remember that? Joy, real unfettered running around Larp joy. From a giant space rock golem just because and weird space magic experiments to an NPC literally saying ‘Arise, my monster arise’ the sense of having fun doesn’t stop. That sense of fun is however complimented by such things as a murderer killing her way to get away from a war zone being executed for her crimes in tears muttering she just wanted to go home, or funerals for fallen comrades. There is serious roleplay going on here, just no one is thinking about their motivation, they are just getting on with it. No one is going ‘I know I’ll do this over the top here thing to be the centre of attention.’
There was a moment before time in were players were in character, keen and running around. You know what? Without the cool larpers there to sneer at this obviously over keen behaviour it reminded me why we do this. I will be honest and say my keen had evaporaited ,but when i saw a bunch of people having fun without people snidely judging them my keen reappeared from nowhere, that is the essence of Green Cloaks
As to the combat, someone I have a huge amount of respect for said the other week (I maybe paraphrasing here) that ‘running around with a gun shouting quad is the most fun with your clothes on.’ She’s wrong, running around shooting people with darts and using space magic as a space Viking with space Russians hunting space werewolves that are tormenting your space ganger friends is the most fun ever. It’s almost like putting the word space on the front of everything makes it more fun….
Hell I don’t even mind camp attacks at green cloaks, because they are generally fun and no one really has to sit on gate for six hours if they don’t want to (cause nothing more soul destroying than gate guard duty….)
This game has broken its 100 barrier and the four regiments are recruiting, this has always been designed as a large scale fest game with. From the honourable space knights of the 109th (plug sockets…I’m watching), The space Vikings/Russians of the ninja 98th, the Armed Necromunda/Mad Max style gangers of Delmont and the Heavy weapon toting 23rd with their attached Blackwater style ‘contractors’ each is looking for recruits.
So negatives? Food van queue (which as numbers go up will have to be looked at), getting my hand trodden on in a crush, over excitement causing tappy swings from some players and monsters and some of the rules fill my heart with hatred (but that’s just me, my heart is made of hate and rusty springs).
However if you are looking for a system that is genuinely inclusive and isn’t just saying it, generally drama free and full if really nice people who aren’t full of themselves (well obviously i’ll be there so not entirely true) Green Cloaks is it. Even with some rules niggles I still place it a head and shoulders above most games out there based on a game is made by the players and the players at Green Cloaks are amazing, especially considering how many people post GC E1 posted the words ‘this was my first Larp event and it was great’
It will be interesting to see how GC scales down the line, with a lot of people taking an interest in the game and numbers climbing, will new regiments be added? Do nerf fire fights scale well? and will all the calls work at 200, 500 or 1000 players? Certainly I know from being told they are looking to get the infrastructure right before anything else (which is the right thing to do IMHO) which is probably one of the more important aspects a lot of people ignore on the altar of immersion, kit and other such fluffies.
So yep, my two fav fest style games are still fun, still awesome, still have the character that defines them and have fun and players at the centre.
Next: Why Mary Sue NCPs should be put down for the good of all. Double tap all of the time.