Had the A Grandiose Disaster playtest last night. It went very well. The players had a good time and I learned a lot about what I need to do for the larp. Here are my notes in the order I made them. Really important notes will have before and after
them, which might bold them on G+.
Bruce Hendrickson suggested new character templates, the Cop and the Soldier, which I will add, along with Lawrence Lee’s suggestion of the Criminal. I will remove the Hero, and the Love Interest. I’m also combining the Genius, Scientist, and Know-It-All into one template because they do not have a good diversity of abilities.
Add “staple here” marks to the scenario. Also, make icons on the scenario larger and more prominent.
Add a “doom chart page 2” title to page 2 of the doom chart. When I write the instructions for roleplaying scenes, include instructions to let people have their private scenes with their close relationships.
Saying “this isn’t the time for this sort of thing; we’re running for our lives,” is against the spirit of what I’m trying to do here. It is …exactly… the time for this sort of thing.
Players need Wounded and Distraught badges or some way to easily identify Wounded or Distraught characters. The scenario was not deadly enough.
Only two characters died. I never thought I’d get to type that, but it’s true. Years and years of writing adventure larps where I wanted to make it challenging but not deadly have made me reluctant to kill characters. But this larp needs it. I plan to enact the following:
- If a character is wounded and becomes wounded again, they die. I believe that was the plan all along, but for the playtest, I said that the second wounded has no effect.
- Reduce the time for each scene and add a few more scenes, especially deadly scenes.
- Rejigger the ability ratios and remove a lot of the challenges. I am ashamed to admit I didn’t check the number of characters who could do each challenge before the run or I would have learned that 6 characters could do cleverness challenges and only 2 could do agility challenges. I have dropped those numbers quite a bit. people did not like the voting mechanic.
I had an out-of-game mechanic similar to “Werewolf” for players to decide who died in a scene, but the players felt it broke the immersion. Instead the scenes will be rewritten so that someone will need to sacrifice themselves so the others can live and the players may choose who that is. (And if time runs out, they will use the doom chart).
Also, some scenarios will force players to use the doom chart to make it more meaningful. The doom chart was meant to be a stick to get players to vote, but players really liked the doom chart so I need to make it more prominent.
The Medical Worker’s ability that makes them Distraught, makes them Distraught too often. Nerf it. When writing the instructions for roleplaying the scenes, include instructions for rearranging the space and to roleplay out the activity.
The scenes involved crawling through ducts, running from cave ins, and the like. At the start of the game, people were moving about the space in reaction to the scene. By halfway through, they were just standing around. I think part of that is that they made the wounded characters sit down and then they all just gradually sat around them. But if the rules were “chairs are set dressing, not for sitting” then they would have to actively help the wounded characters and would be more likely to roleplay digging through rubble.
Likewise, I need to give good instructions on how to react when a scene is being read. If they react while the scene is being read, then that needs to be taken into account. I’d prefer for them to listen to what the setup is and then do it, but people’s first reaction will be to interrupt the setup narration to react to it. I’m not sure what to do about that yet. scenarios need to say which challenges will not be used.
There are five types of challenges and the scenario only used four of them. People who could do the fifth type of challenge felt cheated. I do not want to limit authors by saying they must use all challenges, and I did try to warn people that not all challenges will be used, but they felt that was not enough. So the scenario needs to say which challenges it doesn’t use. when creating characters, players need to put more work into their strong relationships
There were some good relationships, and it did make for tough decisions. My favorite moment was the line, “you’re asking me to choose between saving my dad or my best friend?” That encapsulates the larp for me right in that one question. But I don’t think people really had strength in their strong relationships. People made suggestions and I will cogitate.
The scenario, Ice and Fire, has the players battling earth, fire, and water. There should also be high winds to complete the set. I was pleased to note that the heavy foreshadowing worked and the players knew exactly what kind of disaster to expect based on the information presented.
But all in all, I thought it was a very successful run. I’ve already updated the templates. I want to update the scenario and write up the runtime rules so it can be run by a friend at Camp Nerdly, and possibly a private larp event in Chicago this summer.