We’re writing an event that will be lower combat than some of our previous events. We’ve had some issues with communicating because Action – as in action movies – means combat, and yet describing the event as ‘Low-Action’ seems to suggest politicial talking rather than running around doing things. Whilst I’m not too against not fighting if I go to an event, I do expect to be running around. I don’t want to sit in a hut all weekend – I want to be being active. I want to go home mentally and physically exhausted.
A lot of LRP events have fighting as a major part of the event. Battles are a big draw from fest systems. Peace breaking out is seen as a bad thing at large scale events and active conflict is strongly encouraged. People go to events to get their fight on. Politics is good, but tends to need to be controlled to avoid the need to 300 players to stand around looking decorative and getting bored while 10 players speak to each other or, even worse, 5 players speak to some NPCs.
Parlour LRP and Nordic LRP both seem to have more place for less violent conflict – they’re much more political games. I don’t suit politics. I’m far too busy being thinking about the panel of the tent roof that’s a slightly different colour to listen well, and I’m far from the only person with that problem.
I like action. I like to be up and moving and doing things. This is part of the reason I like smaller events. At smaller events action can be far more about solving puzzles and similar. We tend to describe them as crystal maze style activities. They require players to work together, often while under threat from various things. They’ll be breaking codes, crawling through tunnels, finding clues, fixing broken engineering and similar. It’s more interesting than repetitive fighting, but also can be much harder work to build into the game. Often it only has a certain number of players it can occupy, and good quality games can involve complicated props that need building.
Our ideal puzzle requires several players to be in different places doing things at the same time. Ideally they won’t be able to see each other and can’t communicate directly. There will be visible feedback as to the results of their decisions and the world won’t end if they get it wrong. It might be a lot harder to live in, but it won’t be over.
Players working together on something that requires intense roleplay and communication are deeply drawn into the game. I find it a far better way to get into character and to focus on the events than combat or politicking.
We’ve run games using computer games. It would be amazing to have a repository of software and games that people running sci-fi events can use to create the world their players live in. It’s not something I can see happening just yet as we have enough trouble maintaining ours from event to event without anyone who isn’t us having to look at it.
Physical combat is a massive limiting factor. For some people it stops them going to your game, either because they don’t enjoy that or because they’re not safe around combat. I’ve written before about poorly written attacks and fights that are there more to give players something to do than to further the event. In modern games the tendency to want a fight results in players carrying weapons which may not be appropriate if you’re wanting your player party to be able to move through the real world without getting shot by the real police.
It’s a lot more effort to create puzzles that require physical and mental effort. It’s hard not to make them repetitive. In my case I have access to one of the best LRP resources in the world (Mandala Studios) and I’m finding the idea of only a year to create the things we need for the event a little scary. It’s totally worth it though. Combat is part of an event. Quality combat is planned and executed well. Action is more than just violence.