So PACT that was a thing.
I haven’t gone to a new LRP in ages, mainly because of time, money and stress. Then out of the blue a mate suggested we go along and see how it is. Obviously this involves meeting new people and socialising which is ghastly, ghastly business to be sure however at thirty quid (twenty pre-booked) on a weekend I was going planning on spending starring over windswept moors in lashing rain I thought why not. That and it’s in Winchester so doesn’t involve cannibals or whippets.
Obviously my mate dropped out……
PACT is set in a world where four nations aligned to the four elements decide that the best way to stop killing each other over dwindling territory is to create a brand new continent with magic.
The players come in as members of the PACT exploring this new continent and creating magical stabilisers so that people can live on it.
With me? Pretty simple premise? Of course it’s never that easy. Between cranky elementals, bandits who shouldn’t be there, some strange creature that erases people, odd things with the flow of time, weird fauna and politics it’s not an easy ride. And that’s before players who understand PvP can just be arguing and no one has to die.
It’s a fun setting that I hope goes in just the right direction of odd and mysterious. There is plenty of scope for a world building like Lost (I liked it, shut up), Mysterious Island and other strange fiction style things. I was also reminded of Numaria and other stuff down those lines. OH and at least one charcter looked like they had stepped out of a Pathfinder illustration.
Other things I like about the setting is the lack of deities. It stops the pulling of focus from the elementals and the metaphysics of the world, but also means uber monsters that can’t be stopped won’t be delivering exposition to me like a soggy cold shit encrusted pizza.
To be clear it’s not The Last Airbender the Larp. It is it’s own very cool IP. The comparisons are easy to make if you are hard of thinking, but where (and I’m assuming here as I only saw the movie, NO you’re a Hollywood enabling monster.) the Last Airbender is the hero’s story and Jesus, this has more in common with Deadwood meets Indy Jones, via Lost. Also any comparisons to it being Green Cloaks fantasy are wrong, it’s its own beast and world. The rule set is similar (with my similar niggle with the through call, however interestingly there is a way of addressing this at PACT) and although its running a third gen rules set, the background feels fresh and focused.
So the system? Played Green Cloaks? Been to CP? Cool you got it, but without the niggles (by niggles, it’s the only system I have played regularly this year and my niggles are very much in hand). Now I’m not sure how PACT would scale, but I will get to that.
Character creation is pick a race, decide if you are attuned to an element, decide if you have some/no/or lots of mp vs hp and then pick skill points. In a moment of comfortable nostalgia, there are skill trees! This is a moment of bliss that my inner nerd grinned at.
Straight out the bat you will be able to do ‘cool things tm’ and this made me smile. The ability to be good at combat from word go, or be a good crafter or a good mage or a adequate at lots of stuff was joy making. It felt like the ref’s were saying ‘Go be a big godamn hero/villain, just don’t be dull.’ There was a real vibe of you are actually the best of the best, rather than supporting characters for NPC’s.
Also kicking a few systems up the arse and reminding them that not everyone wants to be a mage. Want to research? Well guess what you can learn to do interesting things with a sword without being a wizard. I’m yet to see if this is a thing that requires NPC stroking, but the very fact that you can be a fighter who can personalise (within a very specific frame work of named things) proof that the team are invested in giving every character a chance to shine. Obviously as the game grows this could lead to queues, but I think that actually the team will address it.
There is a bit of me that goes ‘OMG power creep’, but at the scale its at at the moment it isnt an issue, and remember its at its second game and hasn’t been exposed to power gamer’s yet. I have no doubt that they will try and make sure this is balanced before Cunto the magnificent turns up throwing out thirty knockdowns in every encounter
Personally I built a pure non magical paladin-lite fighter to see if a game that has so much invested in its metaphysics and magical background could give me stuff to do other than punching things. (That and prove I can play something other than morally ambiguous trauma gowning knife merchants.)
And it did, I had fun. The fighting was fun, the role-play was great and the players where really nice. I don’t say that lightly either. The people there are positive and non toxic, which is a thing I’m looking for in systems these days. If they ran next week I’d go again. Now that could be down to it being new and shinny or because the other players were so much fun to be around, but I think it was mainly down to it just being fun.
From Dante (Think Burke from aliens, if Burke was representing a mages guild and was a ninja.) to THE BEST DWARF EVER every character was role-played rather than being a pile of stats. Not only that but when time out rolled round everyone was still welcoming and not twats. There was no elitism or cliquishness. Hell I’ve actually made a couple of friends, and i hate people.
So it was welcoming, the system doesn’t offend, its background is interesting and I want to see what mysteries await, what are the negatives?
The current site is a little small, that said it was used creatively and with panache, and the need for a stabiliser when you left camp meant that foraging parties stayed together and didn’t go too far.
Crew size. Actually it worked well at this ratio, however I can see that as more and more players go there will be a need for more and more crew. This was their first weekend event I believe and only their second ever. Down the line they will need more crew, this is me hinting that a genuine grass roots game might need crew and support. From the right sort of people.
More players…….There is a horrible moment when you go to a great small game and know that if you say something positive people will come to it. And some of those people will be toxic twatmonkies that need to be on fire. There are people I could name that would spoil a small system like this that is just starting and I genuinely hope they don’t turn up. I’m a elitist prick some of the time (Yes only some.), but the reality is that this game actually looks balanced (long term play will obviously give a few bumps.) and its actually fun. You know fun, before the advent of facebook and meta gaming. So I hope that the collective horror show that is the worst of our community don’t turn up.
It was a game with wonder, mystery, adventure, romance, rivalries and Pilates.
Other than obviously being the center of attention and head massages, The things that stood out more than anything was the flexibility of the crew.
When players wanted to do a thing, nine times out of ten they said yes. Obviously not yes to ‘You can have this because you are a whinny/bribing/ bullying little toxic twat who won’t shut up till you get it’, but yes to things that developed characters, messed up their finely crafted plots or things like us just straight up making Saturday afternoon about players chasing players (Why that Guild, I oughta!). I genuinely hope that I can say ‘yes’ with as much good grace when I get that choice.
But this bit sums up how I felt about the game. Dawn playing an NPC. We had caught her up to no good and she gave us a good five minutes to make sure she couldn’t get away before she made a break for it, and even then she didn’t blink out of existence until she put some decent distance between her and her pursuers. An important NPC that could have died there and then.
The appearance is that the NPC gave the players all the time into the world to catch the baddie, but we screwed up. This is good. I screwed up rather than having my agency as a player stripped from me by flange, but more importantly that story arc continues not because ‘It had to so we have to flange’, but in the grand scheme of failing up. We cocked up, we get the reward of more plot and an attack by a giant metal construct.
If they keep that sort of thing up, it’s going to be an amazing system.
Oh and as a little aside, the caterers. Conspiracy Catering. Was a little bit impressed. Apparently they stepped in at the last minute and you would not have guessed. Also three quid for tea all weekend is pretty much a win in my book.