This weekend I went to Curious Pastimes (CP).
CP is the first fest system I played in, in 2003, and this is the first time I wasn’t going as a player. The system was a large part of my induction into the hobby, and it’s probably the fest level system that most closely matches my key LRP values. (Fest events, for me are the systems that have up to about 5 main gatherings a year with a player base of over about 500.)
The system as it is now feels very different to how it did when I was first playing. A lot of that will be that the system has changed. A huge amount will be that I have changed. I know that I won’t be spending this weekend with the people I played with when I first started playing, and given how much of the weekend is dictated by the people this will have a massive impact. I was pretty solidly committed to CP for about six years and I went through a few factions and groups in that time, but I’ve been a lot more sporadic in my attendance more recently.
People get a bit tribal about fest systems. They all have their own way of doing things and we can get away with believing that our way is the right way. One of the major things that stops LRP developing is people believing they’ve tried something and it didn’t work and therefore no variation on it should ever be tried again. It’s easy to tell people they can’t do something – we do it all the time – but it’s probably better to work out why it didn’t work and then improve it. Mandala believe that our events are amazing because we have the skills and determination to pull off the ridiculous, and we’re willing to nearly kill ourselves (or more specifically, Wookie) to achieve it.
I was asked if it was odd to try crewing both, and it honestly wasn’t. I’m very loyal to Empire, and to the Sci Fi fest system we’re trying to convince Matt to run. However, I don’t see crewing or playing different systems as a conflict of interest. It’s a way of exploring the different ways people are working, and connecting with different people to find out what they think about the hobby and to improve the things we’re trying to do. There are a lot of people I know from Empire events playing at CP.
It was a good weekend. It was very interesting seeing the differences between the way the Empire monster room runs and the way that the CP one does. It answered a few major questions I had. For example, I was curious about the difference in the style of plot going out for each event, and realised that as the CP events move locations to interesting events they have specific event plot that doesn’t happen in the same way at PD. At PD they build up to going to deal with a threat and it’s dealt with in skirmishes and quests that don’t affect every nation in the same way. At CP players live surrounded by the threat and the events that have built up as a result of the ongoing player decisions and plot.
Given how little time I was out on the field at CP it was clear that the players were really enjoying themselves, there was a lot going on, and it was a well dressed, comprehensive world that people really felt they were part of. The player camps at CP have a really solid identity and atmosphere that I haven’t yet found in other systems. It’s an easy place to believe you’re in another world, and everyone is working together. The game is the most important thing and players and crew alike are working to make that happen.